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India: Crop Output
Country Study > Chapter 7 > Agriculture > Production > Crop Output


The average rate of output growth since the 1950s has been more than 2.5 percent per year and was greater than 3 percent during the 1980s, compared with less than 1 percent per annum during the period from 1900 to 1950. Most of the growth in aggregate crop output was the result of an increase in yields, rather than an increase in the area under crops. The yield performance of crops has varied widely.

The national growth rates mask variability in the performance of different states, but in the regions with the greatest increases three categories are discernible. The first category includes states or areas that have an exceptionally high agricultural growth rate -- Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh. The second is states or areas that have high growth rates, but not as high as the first category -- Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Jammu and Kashmir. A third category has a lesser growth rate and includes Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, eastern Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. These eight states, however, comprise 55 percent of the total food-grains area.

Some observers believe that the increase in productivity has been an important factor explaining the satisfactory growth of food-grain production since the mid-1960s. However, the gains in productivity remain confined to select areas. Between FY 1960 and FY 1980, yields increased by 125.6 percent in North India (Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh). The increase in the other regions was much less: central India, 36 percent; eastern, 22.7 percent; southern, 58.3 percent; and western India, 31.6 percent. The national average was nearly 40.9 percent. Part of this disparity can be explained by the fact that during this period Punjab and Haryana were way ahead of other states in terms of irrigated area, intensity of irrigation, and intensity of cropping. Availability of irrigation is one of the crucial factors governing regional variations.

As a result of a good monsoon during FY 1990, food grain production reached 176 million tons, 3 percent more than in FY 1989. The production of rice and wheat was 74.6 million and 54.5 million tons, respectively. Among the commercial crops, sugarcane and oilseeds reached production levels of 240.3 million tons and 21.8 million tons, respectively. The increased production in FY 1990 was mainly the result of continuing increases in yields for all the main crops -- rice, wheat, pulses, and oilseeds. In the case of oilseeds and sugarcane, higher production was also the result of the increased number of hectares planted.

The growth in food-grain production did not occur in a linear trend, but as a series of spurts depending mostly on the weather, input availability, and price policy. Aggregate growth was composed of an even split between area expansion and yield growth before FY 1964. Since FY 1967, the contribution of growth in yields has become dominant and attests to the vigor with which agriculture has responded to the opportunities opened up by new seed, water, and fertilizer technology.

Last Updated: September 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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