In this article, I will discuss the agriculture of Bihar, the agro-climatic zones in Bihar, the major challenges faced by the agriculture of Bihar, etc. After reading this article, you will get a crisp idea about the agriculture of Bihar.
Agriculture of Bihar
Agriculture is the mainstay of Bihar’s economy. According to the census of 2011, about 74% of the workforce in Bihar depend directly or indirectly on agriculture and allied activities for their subsistence. Around 88.7% of the population of Bihar resides in the rural areas therefore agriculture sector plays a vital role in the overall growth of the state’s economy.
In 2017-18, the contribution of the agricultural sector to Bihar’s Gross State Value Addition (GSVA) stands around 20%. The agriculture of Bihar helps in generating employment opportunities, poverty alleviation, and improving livelihood. Due to the bifurcation of Bihar in 2000, the bulk of mineral resources is currently in Jharkhand. Consequently, agriculture is the only sector that has maximum potential in Bihar.
Agro-climatic zones in Bihar
Based on the profile of soil, rainfall, temperature, and topography, there are four agro-climatic zones in Bihar. These agro-climatic zones are as following types.
- Zone-1 North-west alluvial plain.
- Zone-2 North-east alluvial plain.
- Zone-3 (a) South-east alluvial plain.
- Zone-3 (b) South-west alluvial plain.
Out of four agro-climatic zones of Bihar, the zone-1& 2 are located on the north of Ganga river. On the other hand, zone-3 is entirely located in the south of Ganga. However, the floods in Bihar cause huge loss to the northern agro-climatic zone i.e. zone-1 & 2.
In terms of precipitation, zone-3 receives the lowest rainfall while the agro-climatic zone-1 and 2 receive moderate and high rainfall respectively. However, the rainfall during the monsoon is highest in zone-2 (1105.9mm).
Topographically, the zone-1 slopes towards the south-east direction, having alluvial plains with a very low gradient. The Saran, Vaishali and Samastipur situated in this zone are water-logged. The western portion of this zone is under the influence of the Adhwara System of rivers. For instance, Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Ghaghra. Geologically, this zone has calcareous nodules. The following are the six broad soil association groups of this zone.
- Sub-Himalayan and forest soil
- Recent alluvial Tarai soil
- Young Alluvial calcareous soil
- Young alluvial calcareous saline soil
- Young alluvial non-calcareous, non-saline soil
- Recent alluvial calcareous soil
Read more: A detailed geography of Bihar bpsc.For more article on Bihar.
This agro-climatic zone is marked by alluvial plains formed by the sediments carried by the rivers namely Kosi, Ganga, Mahananda and its tributaries. Also, this region is marked by floods, caused by the Kosi river. Topographically, the general slope of the plains is toward the south-east.
Unlike agro-climatic zone-1, the soil of this zone is non-calcareous but rich in acidic minerals. The salinity and alkalinity are more in Saharsa, western parts of Purnia and Katihar district. The following are the three broad soil association groups of this zone.
The plains of this zone have alluvial and red & yellow soils formed by the river Ganga and those flowing from the south, having their origins in the Chhotanagpur plateau. This zone-3 is marked by backwater known as Tal lands extending from Buxar to Bhagalpur. Locally, the Tal lands are known as Diara lands. The following are the broad soil association groups in this zone.
- The recent alluvial calcareous soil.
- Tal land soil, light grey, dark grey medium to heavy textured soil.
- Old alluvial reddish yellow, yellowish-grey centenary soil.
- Old alluvial grey, greyish-yellow, heavy texture soil with cracking nature.
- The recent alluvial yellowish to reddish-yellow non-calcareous non-saline soils.
- Old alluvial yellowish to red-yellow soil of foothills.
- Old alluvial saline and saline-alkali soils.
Land use pattern at the district level
The district such as Kaimur, Jamui, West Champaran, Gaya, Rohtas, and Nawada together accounted for a total of 5.06 lakh hectare of forest area, more than 80% of the total forest area in Bihar.
The agriculture of Bihar faces multifaceted challenges. The following are the major factors contributing to low productivity in Bihar.
Major challenges to the agriculture of Bihar
- Although the water resources of Bihar are abundant and it receives 999mm of average rainfall. However, the variation in the onset of monsoon on year to year basis results in flood and the drought-like situation in Bihar simultaneously.
Do You Know: How the south-west monsoon is formed in India?
Wastage of water
- The current method of flood irrigation in Bihar results in about 35% loss of water.
- About 60% of the water diverted or pumped for irrigation is wasted via runoff, evapotranspiration, percolation and seepage.
- Despite having agricultural universities, colleges and research centres, the productivity of crops is low in Bihar due to loss adoption of modern technologies by farmers. Consequently, the yield of almost all major crops is lower than the all-India average.
Small size of lands
- The size of landholding is very small in Bihar that compels the small cultivators to resort to the subsidiary occupation.
- More than 90% of all land-holding fall in the category of marginal holding with a farm size less than 1 hectare.
Declining investment in agriculture
- Due to high risk and uncertainty in the agro-climatic zones, prices, productivity, etc, the financing in the farm sector become a problem.
- The slow pace implementation of Kisan Credit Cards leaves the small farmers to highly dependent on non-institutional credit sources.
- The moneylenders demand exorbitant interest rate and farmers get trapped in huge debt cycles.
- Still, the agriculture of Bihar highly dependent on south-west monsoon of India.
Weeds directly deplete the soil nutrients and moisture thus reducing the crop yield.
Seed related issues
- Due to exorbitant prices of seeds, a majority of farmers, especially small and marginal farmers are deprived of good quality seeds.
- Due to the stable price of urea and increase the price of Potash and Phosphorous farmers use more urea than Potash and Phosphorous.
Inadequate marketing and processing
- Due to inadequate food processing units and marketing facilities, farmers compel to sell their crops at low prices.
Floods and Droughts
- Bihar experience both floods and droughts simultaneously. Click this to read a complete article on floods in Bihar.
Quick facts on major crops of Bihar
|Major crops of Bihar||Rice, Wheat, Maize, Pulses and Sugarcane.|
|Important fruits of Bihar||Banana, Papaya, Mango, Guava, Watermelon,|
Muskmelon, Litchi, Pineapple, Gooseberry.
|Important vegetables of Bihar||Potatoes, Onion, Tomato, Cauliflower, Brinjal,|
Chillies, Cucumber, Cauliflower, Bitter gourd,
Bottle gourd, Ladyfinger, Carrot, Pea, Radish.
|Leading producer in Bihar||Districts|
|The leading producer of Potatoes||Vaishali, Nalanda and Patna.|
|The leading producer of Onion||Nalanda, Katihar and Muzaffarpur|
|The leading producer of Cauliflower||Vaishali, Nalanda and Muzaffarpur|
FAQs on agriculture in Bihar
Which district has the highest net sown area in Bihar?
East Champaran in Tirhut Division has the highest net sown area (2.83 lakh hectare) in Bihar.
Which district has the lowest net sown area in Bihar?
Sheohar in Tirhut Division has the lowest net sown area (0.23 lakh hectare) in Bihar.
Which district has the maximum cropping intensity in Bihar?
Saharsa in Kosi Division has the maximum cropping intensity (1.95) in Bihar.
Which district has the minimum cropping intensity in Bihar?
Bhojpur in Patna Division has the minimum cropping intensity (1.07) in Bihar during 2017-18.
Which district has the highest uncultivable land in Bihar?
Gaya in Magadh Division has the highest uncultivable land in Bihar.
The top three mango producing district of Bihar?
Darbhanga, East Champaran and Muzaffarpur together contributed nearly 24.8 % of the total mango production in Bihar during 2018-19.
Which district is the largest producer of Litchi in Bihar?
Muzaffarpur in Tirhut Division is the largest producer of Litchi in Bihar.
The largest producer of Banana in Bihar?
Katihar, Vaishali and Muzaffarpur are the largest producers of Banana in Bihar.