Agro-Climatic Zones in India - UPSC Notes

Agro-Climatic Zones in India – UPSC Notes – Indian Geography

To maximize production from available resources and prevailing climatic conditions, need-based, location-specific technology must be developed. The delineation of Agro-Climatic Zones based on soil, water, rainfall, temperature, etc., is the first essential step for sustainable production.

Agro-climatic regions were established by the Planning Commission in 1989, relying on land survey, soil survey, and agricultural survey of rural India.

An “Agro-climatic zone” is a land unit characterized by major climates, suited for specific crops and cultivars. The goal of planning is to scientifically manage regional resources to fulfill the needs of food, fibre, fodder, and fuelwood while preserving natural resources and the environment.

Agro-climatic conditions primarily include soil types, rainfall, temperature, and water availability, which influence vegetation types.

Agro-Ecological Zone

  • An Agro-ecological zone is a land unit formed by agro-climatic zones overlaid on landforms, which modify climate and lengthen growing periods.
  • India exhibits significant geographical diversity, with variations in terrain, temperature, rainfall, and soils that strongly impact cropping patterns and other agricultural activities.

Delineation Of Agro-Climatic Regions


For the planning and development of agriculture in 1989, the Planning Commission and the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) divided the country into 15 agro-climatic regions. Physical attributes of the region and socio-economic characteristics were considered in delineating these regions.

The main objectives of delineating agro-climatic regions are:

  • Optimizing agricultural production.
  • Increasing farm income.
  • Generating more rural employment.
  • Making judicious use of available irrigation water.
  • Reducing regional inequalities in agricultural development.

The 15 agro-climatic zones in India are:

  • Western Himalayan Region
  • Eastern Himalayan Region
  • Lower Gangetic Plains Region
  • Middle Gangetic Plains Region
  • Upper Gangetic Plains Region
  • Trans-Gangetic Plains Region
  • Eastern Plateau and Hills Region
  • Central Plateau and Hills
  • Western Plateau and Hills
  • Southern Plateau and Hills
  • East Coast Plains and Hills
  • West Coast Plains and Ghats Region
  • Gujarat Plains
  • Western Dry Region
  • The Islands Region.
Agro-Climatic Regions in India

Agro Climatic Zones of India

When addressing the question concerning Agro-climatic regions, the response should be organized into the following sections:

  1. Location and topography
  2. Climatic Conditions
  3. Agricultural Information
  4. Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions.

Zone I – Western Himalayan Region:

Location and Topography:

  • Western Himalayan Region: Encompasses Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand’s hill region.
  • Features snow-covered peaks, dissected topography, steep slopes, perennial rivers, evergreen and deciduous forests, and thin soil cover on undulating slopes.

Climate:

  • Exhibits micro-level variations in temperatures and rainfall, with significant relief variation.
  • Summer season: Mild (July average temperature 5°C-30°C).
  • Winter season: Severe cold conditions (January temperature 0°C to -4°C).
  • Low temperatures, snowfall, and inclement weather in winters hinder agriculture intensification.

Agricultural Information:

  • Agricultural activities mainly in valleys (e.g., Kashmir, Dun, Chamba), river terraces, and gentle slopes of Kandi tracts.
  • Dominant crops: Rice in valleys, maize in hilly areas during kharif.
  • Barley, wheat, oats, peas sown in October, but stunted growth during winter.
  • Well-known for orchard cultivation: Apples, apricots, almonds, walnuts, etc.
  • High altitude alpine pastures (‘Dhoks’ or ‘Margs’) utilized by Gujjars, Bakarwals, and Gaddis for animal rearing.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Economy largely agrarian; over 80% workforce directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture.
  • Major problems: Poor accessibility, soil erosion, landslides, inclement weather, inadequate marketing and storage facilities.
  • Agricultural potential underutilized; need for judicious utilization.
  • Rural communities’ standard of living poor; adoption of new agricultural technology lacking.
  • Urgent need for research, extension services for agricultural development and planning in northwest mountainous region.

Zone II – Eastern Himalayan Region:

Location and Topography:

  • Eastern Himalayan Region: Encompasses Arunachal Pradesh, hills of Assam, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
  • Topography: Rugged.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Temperature: Ranges between 25°C and 30°C in July, and between 10°C and 20°C in January.
  • Average Rainfall: Between 200-400 cm.
  • Soil Type: Red-brown soil, not highly productive.
  • Agricultural Practice: Jhuming (shifting cultivation) prevalent in hilly areas.

Agricultural Information:

  • Main Crops: Rice, maize, potato, tea.
  • Orchards: Pineapple, litchi, oranges, and lime.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Infrastructure: Requires improvement.
  • Control of Shifting Cultivation: Terrace farming development suggested.

Zone III – Lower Gangetic Plain Region:

Location and Topography:

  • Regions Covered: West Bengal (except hilly areas), eastern Bihar, and the Brahmaputra valley.
  • Groundwater Storage: Adequate with a high water table.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Annual Rainfall: Averages between 100-200 cm.
  • Temperature: July ranges from 26°C to 41°C, while January ranges from 9°C to 24°C.

Agricultural Information:

  • Main Crop: Rice, with potential for three successive crops (Aman, Aus, and Boro) annually.
  • Other Crops: Jute, maize, potato, pulses.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Planning Strategies: Emphasize improvement in rice farming, horticulture (banana, mango, citrus fruits), pisciculture, poultry, livestock, forage production, and seed supply.

Zone IV – Middle Gangetic Plain Region:

Location and Topography:

  • Middle Gangetic Plain Region: Encompasses large parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • Topography: Fertile alluvial plain drained by the Ganga and its tributaries.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Temperature: July ranges from 26°C to 41°C, January from 9°C to 24°C.
  • Annual Rainfall: Averages between 100-200 cm.

Agricultural Information:

  • Main Crops (Kharif): Rice, maize, millets.
  • Main Crops (Rabi): Wheat, gram, barley, peas, mustard, potato.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Measures to Boost Agricultural Production: Implement alternative farming systems, utilize chaur lands for pisciculture.
  • Land Reclamation: Reclaim user lands, wastelands, and fallow lands for agriculture and allied activities such as agro-forestry, silviculture, and floriculture.

Zone V – Upper Gangetic Plains Region:

Location and Topography:

  • Upper Gangetic Plains Region: Encompasses central and western parts of Uttar Pradesh, along with Haridwar and Udham Nagar districts of Uttarakhand.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Climate: Sub-humid continental, with July temperatures ranging from 26°C to 41°C and January temperatures from 7°C to 23°C.
  • Annual Rainfall: Averages between 75 cm-150 cm.

Agricultural Information:

  • Soil Type: Sandy loam.
  • Irrigation Sources: Mainly canal, tube-well, and wells.
  • Main Crops: Intensive agriculture with wheat, rice, sugarcane, millets, maize, gram, barley, oilseeds, pulses, and cotton.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Focus Areas: Modernization of traditional agriculture, emphasis on dairy development and horticulture.
  • Strategies: Development of multiple mixed cropping patterns.

Zone VI – Trans-Ganga Plains Region:

Location and Topography:

  • This region, also known as the Sutlej-Yamuna Plains, spans across Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, and the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Semi-arid characteristics prevail, with July mean monthly temperature ranging between 25°C and 40°C and January between 10°C and 20°C.
  • Average annual rainfall varies between 65 cm and 125 cm. The soil, alluvial and highly productive, supports agricultural activities.
  • Irrigation: Canals, tube-wells, and pumping sets are installed by cultivators and governments.

Agricultural Information:

  • Intensity of Agriculture: Highest in the country, with major crops including wheat, sugarcane, cotton, rice, gram, maize, millets, pulses, and oilseeds.
  • Green Revolution: Region credited with introducing it in the country, adopting modern farming methods with mechanization.
  • Challenges: Water logging, salinity, alkalinity, soil erosion, and falling water table.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Steps for Sustainability and Productivity:
    • Diversion of some rice-wheat area to other crops like maize, pulses, oilseeds, and fodder.
    • Development of genotypes of rice, maize, and wheat with resistance to pests and diseases.
    • Promotion of horticulture alongside pulses like tur and peas in upland conditions.
    • Cultivation of vegetables near industrial clusters.
    • Supply of quality seeds and planting material for horticulture crops.
    • Development of infrastructure like transit godowns and processing units for handling additional fruit and vegetable production.
    • Implementation of policies and programs to increase productivity of milk and wool.
    • Development of high-quality fodder crops and animal feed by expanding the area under fodder production.

Zone VII – Eastern Plateau And Hills:

Location and Topography:

  • This region encompasses the Chotanagpur Plateau, extending over Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Dandakaranya.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Temperature: Ranges from 26°C to 34°C in July, 10°C to 27°C in January.
  • Annual Rainfall: Averages between 80 cm-150 cm.
  • Water Resources: Deficient due to plateau structure and nonperennial streams.

Agricultural Information:

  • Soil Types: Red and yellow with occasional patches of lateritic and alluvial.
  • Agricultural Practices: Rain-fed agriculture predominant, cultivating crops like rice, millets, maize, oilseeds, ragi, gram, and potato.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Improving Agricultural Productivity and Income:
    • Cultivation of high-value crops such as pulses like tur, groundnut, and soybean on upland rain-fed areas.
    • Growing crops like urad, castor, and groundnut in kharif and mustard and vegetables in irrigated areas.
    • Improvement of indigenous breeds of cattle and buffaloes.
    • Expansion of fruit plantations.
    • Renovation, including desilting of existing tanks and excavation of new tanks.
    • Development of inland fisheries in permanent water bodies and adopting an integrated watershed development approach to conserve soil and rainwater.

Zone VIII – Central Plateau And Hills:

Location and Topography:

  • This region spans over Bundelkhand, Baghelkhand, Bhander Plateau, Malwa Plateau, and Vindhyachal Hills.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Climate: Semi-arid, with July temperatures ranging from 26°C to 40°C, January temperatures from 7°C to 24°C, and average annual rainfall between 50 cm-100 cm.
  • Soil Types: Mixed red, yellow, and black soils.

Agricultural Information:

  • Water Scarcity: Notable.
  • Crops: Millets, wheat, gram, oilseeds, cotton, and sunflower.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Measures to Improve Agricultural Returns:
    • Water Conservation: Utilize water-saving devices such as sprinklers and drip systems.
    • Dairy Development: Enhance dairy activities.
    • Crop Diversification: Explore diversification options.
    • Groundwater Development: Focus on developing groundwater resources.
    • Reclamation of Ravine Lands: Reclaim ravine lands for agricultural purposes.

Zone IX – Western Plateau And Hills:

Location and Topography:

  • This region comprises the southern part of Malwa plateau and Deccan plateau (Maharashtra), characterized by regur (black) soil.

Climatic Conditions:

  • July Temperature: Ranges between 24°C and 41°C.
  • January Temperature: Ranges between 6°C and 23°C.
  • Average Annual Rainfall: Falls within 25 cm-75 cm range.

Agricultural Information:

  • Main Crops (Rain-fed Areas): Wheat, gram, millets, cotton, pulses, groundnut, and oilseeds.
  • Main Crops (Irrigated Areas): Sugarcane, rice, wheat.
  • Other Cultivated Crops: Oranges, grapes, bananas.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Water Efficiency: Popularize water-saving devices like sprinklers and drip systems.
  • Crop Replacement: Replace lower-value crops like jowar, bajra, and rain-fed wheat with high-value oilseeds.
  • Crop Diversification: Substitute 5% of rain-fed cotton and jowar area with fruits like ber, pomegranate, mango, and guava.
  • Livestock Improvement: Encourage cross-breeding to enhance milk production of cattle and buffalo, alongside poultry development.

Zone X – Southern Plateau And Hills:

Location and Topography:

  • This region falls within the interior Deccan, covering parts of southern Maharashtra, the majority of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and the Tamil Nadu uplands from Adilabad District in the north to Madurai District in the south.

Climatic Conditions:

  • July Temperature: Ranges between 25°C and 40°C.
  • January Temperature: Ranges between 10°C and 20°C.
  • Annual Rainfall: Falls between 50 cm and 100 cm.

Agricultural Information:

  • Dry-Zone Agriculture: Millets, oilseeds, and pulses are the main crops.
  • Specialized Cultivation: Coffee, tea, cardamom, and spices are grown along the hilly slopes of the Karnataka plateau.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Crop Diversification: Consider diverting some area under coarse cereals to pulses and oilseeds.
  • Encouraged Sectors: Promote horticulture, dairy development, and poultry farming.

Zone XI – Eastern Coastal Plains And Hills:

Location and Topography:

  • This region encompasses the Coromandal and northern Circar coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Climatic Conditions:

  • July Temperature: Ranges between 25°C and 35°C.
  • January Temperature: Varies between 20°C and 30°C.
  • Annual Rainfall: Averages between 75 cm and 150 cm.

Agricultural Information:

  • Soil Types: Alluvial, loam, and clay, troubled by alkalinity.
  • Main Crops: Rice, jute, tobacco, sugarcane, maize, millets, groundnut, and oilseeds.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Main Agricultural Strategies:
    • Improvement in cultivation of spices (pepper and cardamom) and development of fisheries.
    • Increasing cropping intensity using water-efficient crops on residual moisture.
    • Discouraging rice cultivation on marginal lands, opting for alternate crops like oilseeds and pulses.
    • Diversifying cropping patterns and avoiding mono-cropping.
    • Developing horticulture in upland areas, promoting social forestry and dairy farming.

Zone XII – Western Coastal Plains And Ghats:

Location and Topography:

  • This zone encompasses the Malabar and Konkan coastal plains and the Sahyadris.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Humid Climate: Mean July temperature ranges between 25°C and 30°C, while mean January temperatures range between 18°C and 30°C.
  • Annual Rainfall: Exceeds 200 cm on average.

Agricultural Information:

  • Soil Types: Lateritic and coastal alluvial.
  • Main Crops: Rice, coconut, oilseeds, sugarcane, millets, pulses, and cotton.
  • Specialization: Famous for plantation crops and spices cultivated along the hill slopes of the Western Ghats.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Focus on High-Value Crops: Emphasize cultivation of high-value crops like pulses, spices, and coconut.
  • Infrastructure Development: Improve infrastructural facilities.
  • Promotion of Prawn Culture: Encourage prawn culture in brackish water.

Zone XIII – Gujarat Plains And Hills:

Location and Topography:

  • This region encompasses the hills and plains of Kathiawar, along with the fertile valleys of Mahi and Sabarmati rivers. It is characterized by an arid and semi-arid climate.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Temperature: Mean July temperature is 30°C, while January averages around 25°C.
  • Annual Rainfall: Ranges between 50 cm and 100 cm.

Agricultural Information:

  • Soil Types: Regur in the plateau region, alluvium in the coastal plains, and red and yellow soils in Jamnagar area.
  • Main Crops: Groundnut, cotton, rice, millets, oilseeds, wheat, and tobacco. It’s a significant oilseed-producing region.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Development Strategies:
    • Canal and Groundwater Management: Focus on effective water management.
    • Rainwater Harvesting: Implement rainwater harvesting techniques.
    • Dry Land Farming: Promote techniques suitable for arid and semi-arid regions.
    • Agro-forestry Development: Encourage the development of agro-forestry systems.
    • Wasteland Development: Reclaim and utilize wastelands for agriculture.
    • Marine Fishing and Aquaculture: Develop marine fishing and brackish/back-water aquaculture in coastal zones and river deltas.

Zone XIV – Western Dry Region:

Location and Topography:

  • This region extends over Rajasthan, located west of the Aravallis.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Rainfall: Erratic, with an annual average of less than 25 cm. The desert climate leads to high evaporation rates and extreme temperatures.
  • Temperature: Ranges from 28°C to 45°C in June and 5°C to 22°C in January.

Agricultural Information:

  • Main Crops (Kharif): Bajra, jowar, and moth.
  • Main Crops (Rabi): Wheat and gram.
  • Livestock Contribution: Significant in desert ecology.

Development Focus Areas:

  • Rainwater Harvesting: Emphasize methods for collecting rainwater.
  • Horticultural Crop Yield: Increase yield levels of crops like watermelon, guava, and date palm.
  • Livestock Improvement: Adopt high-quality germplasm to enhance cattle breeds.
  • Wasteland Management: Implement silvi-pastoral systems on wastelands.

Zone XV – Island Region:

Location and Topography:

  • The island region comprises Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep, characterized by a typically equatorial climate.

Climatic Conditions:

  • Annual Rainfall: Less than 300 cm.
  • Temperature: Mean July and January temperatures of Port Blair are 30°C and 25°C respectively.

Agricultural Information:

  • Soil Types: Vary from sandy along the coast to clayey loam in valleys and lower slopes.
  • Main Crops: Rice, maize, millets, pulses, areca nut, turmeric, and cassava. Coconut cultivation covers nearly half of the cropped area.
  • Environmental Aspect: Covered with thick forests, agriculture is in a backward stage.

Socio-economic Aspects and Suggestions:

  • Development Thrust Areas:
    • Crop Improvement: Focus on improving crop varieties.
    • Water Management: Implement strategies for efficient water use.
    • Fisheries Development: Introduce multi-purpose fishing vessels for deep-sea fishing, build suitable infrastructure for fish storage and processing, and promote brackish water prawn culture in coastal areas.

Conclusion

The Agro Climatic zone strategy aims to foster adequate economic and agricultural development. Alongside agriculture, emphasis is placed on allied activities such as poultry and animal husbandry, as well as practices like crop diversification and rotation. Area-specific agro-processing clusters and Agro-based industries are also crucial for enhancing farmer’s income and fostering socio-economic development.

Agro-climatic classification relies on scientific principles considering various constituent variables. Hence, it’s essential to align agriculture and farming practices with the available resources. Emerging practices such as integrated farming, agroforestry, sustainable agriculture, and hydroponics should be encouraged alongside appropriate policy directives.

This article is pertinent to the Geography section of the syllabus for UPSC, designated for both the Preliminary and Main Examination of the Civil Services Exam.

FAQs on Agro-Climatic Regions in India

Q. What are agro climatic zones of India?

Agro climatic zones of India are geographical areas characterized by distinct climatic conditions, soil types, and other environmental factors that influence agricultural production and practices.

Q. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, how many Agro-Climatic Zones are there in India?

The Ministry of Agriculture identifies a total of 15 Agro-Climatic Zones across India.

Q. How many agro-climatic zones exist in the state of Uttar Pradesh?

Uttar Pradesh encompasses four agro-climatic zones.

Q. What is the number of Agro-Climatic Zones in India according to the National Commission on Agriculture?

The National Commission on Agriculture recognizes 15 Agro-Climatic Zones in India.

Q. How many agro-climatic zones of India are in Jammu and Kashmir?

Jammu and Kashmir are divided into two agro-climatic zones.

Q. What is the objective of the agro climatic zones of India?

The primary objective of agro climatic zones in India is to facilitate optimal agricultural planning and resource utilization based on the specific climatic and environmental conditions of each zone, aiming for sustainable agricultural development.

Q. How are Agro Climatic zones of India determined?

Agro Climatic zones of India are determined based on factors such as soil types, rainfall patterns, temperature variations, and geographical features using scientific methodologies and research.

Q. Is the agro climatic zone topic essential for UPSC exam?

Yes, the agro climatic zone topic is considered essential for the UPSC exam, particularly for candidates appearing in the Geography section of both the Preliminary and Main Examination of the Civil Services Exam.

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