Agriculture of Bihar: problems & solutions

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.

One of the Important crops of 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.
Agro-climatic zones in Bihar

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).

Agro-climatic zone-1

Agro-climatic zone-1 of Bihar

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.

Agro-climatic zone-2

Agro-climatic zone-2 of 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.

Agro-climatic zone-3

Agro-climatic zone-3 of Bihar

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.

Land utilization in Bihar in (2017-18)

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

Bihar is an agrarian state in eastern India that is predominantly rural and heavily dependent on agriculture. Despite being one of the most fertile regions in India, the state’s agricultural sector faces several problems that impact its productivity and growth. Some of the major problems facing agriculture in Bihar are:

  1. Low agricultural productivity: Bihar’s agricultural productivity is lower than the national average. This is due to a combination of factors such as a lack of irrigation facilities, low soil fertility, inadequate use of modern inputs, and limited access to credit.
  2. Fragmentation of land holdings: Most of Bihar’s farmers have small and fragmented land holdings, which makes it difficult to adopt modern farming practices and techniques that require economies of scale.
  3. Lack of infrastructure: Bihar’s rural areas lack basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, and storage facilities, which makes it difficult to transport and store agricultural products.
  4. Inadequate market linkages: Bihar’s farmers often lack access to reliable and transparent markets, which results in low prices for their products.
  5. Climate change: Bihar is vulnerable to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, which can severely impact agricultural production.

Some possible solutions to address these challenges are:

  1. Improving irrigation facilities: Increased investment in irrigation facilities such as canals, borewells, and ponds can help improve agricultural productivity and reduce the risk of crop failure due to water scarcity.
  2. Promoting sustainable agriculture: Encouraging the use of organic farming practices, improving soil fertility through better soil management practices, and promoting the use of modern inputs such as high-yielding seeds and fertilizers can help improve agricultural productivity and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  3. Land consolidation: Consolidating small and fragmented land holdings can help farmers adopt modern farming practices, achieve economies of scale, and increase productivity.
  4. Developing rural infrastructure: Improving rural infrastructure such as roads, electricity, and storage facilities can help farmers transport and store their products more efficiently, reducing post-harvest losses.
  5. Strengthening market linkages: Developing reliable and transparent markets for agricultural products can help farmers get better prices for their products and reduce the risk of market failures.
  6. Climate-resilient agriculture: Encouraging farmers to adopt climate-resilient agricultural practices such as crop diversification, water harvesting, and integrated farming systems can help them cope with the impacts of climate change.

Uneven Monsoon

  • 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.

Technological factors

  • 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

Lack of finance in bihar
  • 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.

Rainfed agriculture

  • 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

Lack of high quality Seeds
  • 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

Floods of Bihar
  • 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 BiharRice, Wheat, Maize, Pulses and Sugarcane.
Important fruits of BiharBanana, Papaya, Mango, Guava, Watermelon,
Muskmelon, Litchi, Pineapple, Gooseberry.
Important vegetables of BiharPotatoes, Onion, Tomato, Cauliflower, Brinjal,
Chillies, Cucumber, Cauliflower, Bitter gourd,
Bottle gourd, Ladyfinger, Carrot, Pea, Radish.
Quick facts on agriculture in Bihar
Leading producer in BiharDistricts
The leading producer of PotatoesVaishali, Nalanda and Patna.
The leading producer of OnionNalanda, Katihar and Muzaffarpur
The leading producer of CauliflowerVaishali, Nalanda and Muzaffarpur
Quick facts on agriculture in Bihar

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.

Major References

Rajneesh Kumar Thakur:

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