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Present Scenario of Agriculture in Uttarakhand

 Agriculture in India still engages about 52 per cent of the work force and contributes 17.6 percent of the GDP. A very large majority of the farmers belongs to the category of small and marginal holders. In India average size of land holdings was 2.30 hectares in 1950-51 which reduced to 1.52 hectares in 2008-09. Small farms produce 41 percent of India’s total grain (49per cent of rice, 40 per cent of wheat, 29 per cent of coarse cereals and 27 per cent of pulses), and over half of total fruits and vegetables despite being resource constrained.

Uttarakhand state with diverse agro-climatic endowments, the plains and hills present differing scenarios for agriculture while commercial agriculture is practiced in the plains. The hill farmers mainly practice subsistence farming. The hills practice mixed cropping, while in the plains in a given season single crops are grown mostly. Irrigated land is freely available in the plains, with over 87 per cent land being irrigated as against a mere 10 per cent in the hills. The seed replacement rate for the plains stands at 15-20 per cent, while for the hills it is 3-4 per cent. Productivity across the same crops also differs greatly between the hills and plains. In Uttarakhand more than 75 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. The average size of holding in the state is around 0.98 hectare. Another feature typical of hill farming is the small and scattered land holdings. Out of the total cultivated area, about 50 per cent of landholdings (in number) are sub marginal, and 21 per cent of landholdings measure between 0.5–1 hectares. Over 27 per cent of the area under cultivation consists of plots less than 1 hectare in size. Another 26 per cent of land holdings are between 1 and 4 hectares in size, and account for 51 per cent of the total cultivated area. 22 per cent of the cultivated land consists of plots over 4 hectares in size, and these account for 3 percent of the land holdings in number. The productivity of various crops is also low. Thus the government of Uttarakhand is promoting the cultivation of some selected crops like Basmati rice, Aromatic and Medicinal plants, Vegetables cultivation, Flower cultivation, Litchi production and Milk production. Major crops grown in Uttarakhand are rice, wheat, sugarcane, maize, soybean, pulses and oilseeds. Major fruits grown in Uttarakhand are Mango, litchi, guava, apricot etc while major vegetables grown in Uttarakhand are Potato, tomato, green pea, cauliflower and capsicum etc. Farmers or primary producers face many challenges, of both technical and economic nature.

Land use pattern of Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is primarily an agricultural state although its share in the country’s total area and production is very small. The contribution of agriculture to the state’s domestic product is about 22.4 per cent and the population dependent on agriculture for their livelihood is about 75-85 per cent respectively. For instance, the productivity of wheat in the hills is 13.2 quintals/hectare, while in the plains it is 30.45 quintals/hectare. For rice the figures stand at 12.36 quintals/hectare in the hills and 27.49 quintals/hectare in the plains (Uttarakhand State Planning Commission, 2007). This highlights the need for separate approaches for agricultural development in the hills and plains areas of the state. The land use pattern of crops in Uttarakhand reflects a declining trend in the acreage of conventional crops like barley and increase in non conventional crops like soybean and other vegetable crops. Farmers are gradually shifting from low value crops to high value crops. The decline in the area under traditional crops has been relatively higher in the Kharif season as compared to Rabi season. During the Kharif season the farmers are putting a sizeable land area under the production of off-season vegetables. The land under production of traditional Kharif crops has declined to 10 percent as against 8 percent for Rabi crop. Despite the small holdings most of the farmers who have access to the market and have adequate irrigation facility have opted for a shift in production from low value food-grains to high value commercial crops particularly vegetables and pulses. Time and amount of precipitation have major bearings on crops both in rainfed and irrigated areas. In rainfed areas, sowing time, crop duration and productivity is directly linked to the quantum and distribution of rainfall, while in irrigated areas distribution of rainfall affects germination and harvesting of crops. Table 1 indicates the land use pattern in Uttarakhand.

         Table 1:  Land use pattern in Uttarakhand

S. no.


Area (ha)

% of    Reported area


Total reported area








Barren & Unculturable land




Land put under non-agricultural uses




Culturable Waste land




Permanent pastures and other grazing land




Land under misc. tree crops and groves etc.




Current Fallows




Other fallows




Net area sown



It is indicated from Table 1 that the net sown area is only about 13.52% of the total reported area. The cropping intensity is about 161 %, and the ratio of gross irrigated area to gross sown area is only 44.50 %. In the hills the major crops grown include wheat, paddy, Mandua, Ramdana and Potato whereas in the plains the major crops are wheat, paddy, pulses and sugarcane. Uttarakhand is blessed with rare bio-diversity. Over 175 rare species of aromatic and medicinal plants are found in the State, which gives it a unique opportunity for diversification of activities within the primary sector.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.