Cropping Patterns in Karnataka

Cropping Patterns in Karnataka

Karnataka is India’s eighth largest state in geographical area covering 1.92 lakh sq km and accounting for 6.3 per cent of the geographical area of the country. The state is delineated into 30 districts and 176 taluks spread over 27,481 villages. In Karnataka, agriculture is the major occupation for a majority of the rural population. As per the population Census 2011, agriculture supports 13.74 million workers, of which 23.61 per cent are cultivators and 25.67 per cent agricultural workers. A total of 123,100 km² of land is cultivated in Karnataka constituting 64.6% of the total geographical area of the state. The agricultural sector of Karnataka is characterized by vast steppes of drought prone region and sporadic patches of irrigated area. Thus, a large portion of agricultural land in the state is exposed to the vagaries of monsoon with severe agro-climatic and resource constraints. Agriculture employs more than 60 per cent of Karnataka’s workforce.

Now coming to Cropping pattern in Karnataka, first thing is what is Crop pattern- it is the proportion of area under various crops at a point of time and how it changes over space and time. In the simple word cropping pattern means   the   proportion of area under various crops at a point of time.

Factors affecting Crop Pattern in Karnataka

The cropping pattern of the region is influenced not only by agro-climatic conditions like rainfall, soil, temperature, etc., but also by government policies and programmes for crop production in the form of subsidies, support prices, tariffs and speed of infrastructure development. The use of inputs such as high-yielding crop varieties, chemical fertilizers, plant protection chemicals as well as farm machinery in agriculture has facilitated improvement in productivity and resulted in change of crop pattern in the state.

General trend of Crop Pattern in Karnataka

The overall trends in area allotted for various crops during five decades show that cropping pattern in Karnataka is dominated by food crops, with a share of more than 60 per cent of the gross cropped area in the state. Rice, sorghum and finger millet were the major cereals till 2000-03. However, the share of maize crop went up substantially after 2005 due to improved productivity and prices. The area under food crops declined from 79.1 per cent in the 1960-63 to 59.4 per cent of the GCA (Gross Cropped Area) in 1990-93. The area under cereals declined from 60 per cent in 1960-63 to 43 per cent of the GCA in 2007-08. Acreages of millet crops like sorghum and pear millet and minor millets declined consistently. The reduction in the share of cereals was due to shrinkage in the area devoted to millets. Area under pulses which stood at 11 per cent during the early seventies increased to 18.3 per cent in 2007-10.

Oilseeds grew their share from around 10 to 11 per cent during the sixties and seventies to more than 20 per cent in early 1990s and it was 17 per cent of the GCA in 2007-10. The Technology Mission on Oilseeds introduced in the mid-eighties conditioned the expansion of area under oilseeds. Cotton occupied 9 per cent of the GCA in early 1980s but came down gradually to little more than 3 per cent of the GCA in 2007-10. Area under chickpea hovered around 1.5 per cent of the GCA between 1970s and 1990s, but rose to 6.1 per cent in 2007-10. Similarly area under pigeon pea increased from 2.5 per cent in 1970-73 to 5 per cent in 2007-10. The area under other crops, which include fruits, vegetables and plantation crops, increased gradually from 11.4 per cent of GCA in the early seventies to 15.8 per cent in 2007-10. Karnataka has a varied topographical character ranging from coastal plains to gentle slopes and the heights of the Western Ghats.

Percent share in GCA

Pearl millet4.83.32.6
Finger millet9.68.86.4
Small millet4.21.10.3
Total Cereals59.745.543.1
Total Pulses11.913.818.3
Total Oilseeds9.722.717
Total Foodgrain71.959.461.4



The State is delineated into 4 sub-regions

  1. Northern dry region
  2. Central region
  3. Southern region and
  4. Hills and Coastal region.

In the northern dry region, sorghum is the lead crop dominating the cropping system followed by cotton and pigeon pea. Maize and sugarcane are also important crops there. In the central region, ragi-based cropping system is predominant.

In the Hills and coastal region, the cropping system is rice based and there are some pockets in this region where ragi also forms an important component of the cropping system along with rice. The northern dry and central regions are the major producers of oilseeds.Cropping Patterns in Karnataka

Groundnut is cultivated in the central region whereas sunflower and soybeans are popular in the northern dry region. Cotton, pigeon pea and other pulses are planted during kharif and sorghum is grown on residual moisture during rabi season on black cotton soils in the northern dry region. As expected, mixed or inter-cropping is practised more in the northern and central regions than in the southern region. Rice-rice rotations are common in irrigated areas of southern as well as coastal and hill regions. Sugarcane is grown in sizable areas in all the regions using canal irrigation.

Sericulture is an important activity in the southern region and large areas are under mulberry cultivation. Coconut, areca nut, mango, grapes, sapota, citrus, etc. are the important fruit crops grown in the state. Karnataka is endowed with varied climatic conditions and has good potential for the development of horticulture and floriculture, which needs to be exploited for domestic and export markets.

However, the major challenges faced by agriculture in Karnataka are: threat of stagnation in agriculture growth with possibility of decelerating growth, low value-addition in agriculture, fast approaching optima on technological front, large proportion of rain-fed dry land area, marginalization of agricultural land base, inadequate growth in public and private investment, regional disparities in investment, low technology adoption and growth, inadequate and inefficient safety nets and finally, conflicting demands of growth versus environmental protection. To resolve these issues, it is imperative to focus on rain-fed agriculture, develop initiatives for small and marginal farmers, rebuild natural resource base by promoting an organic approach to farming and develop key infrastructure to provide a boost to growth momentum.

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