India's progress in the agricultural sector has been enormous since the dawn of Independence over 50 years ago. Productivity has increased over 3 times compared to 1950. As an example, India's productivity in cassava growing is the highest in the world at 24.5 tonnes/hectare. India's diverse agriculture sector contributes almost a quarter of India's GDP (Gross Domestic Product). India has achieved self-sufficiency in foodgrains production and is able to export surplus production to many countries. There are two major crop seasons in India, the kharif (starts with the onset of the South West monsoon) and the winter crop, or rabi. Some areas manage a third annual crop.

Paddy fields a few meters below sea level in Alappuzha, Kerala.
Paddy fields a few meters below sea level in Alappuzha, Kerala.

India is the world's second largest foodgrain, fruit and vegetable producer. 175 different types of vegetables are grown in India although potato, tomato, onion, cabbage and cauliflower account for 60 per cent of the total production. India's main foodgrain crops include rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses. India grows a wide variety of horticultural crops including vegetables, fruits, potatoes, medicinal and aromatic plants and plantation crops. India is self-sufficient (with surplus production in many crops) in food production but needs to import substantial amounts of edible oil (oilseeds) and pulses. Agro-processing industries have grown rapidly in India. As an example the sugar industry has an annual turnover of some Rs 250 billion providing direct employment to over half a million people. India's wheat and rice stocks reached almost 30 million tons at the beginning of 2005.

India's plantation crops include tea, coffee, cardamom, pepper, vanilla and rubber.

Cardamom, small (Elettaria cardamomum Maton) - India produced ca 25 000 tons of cardamom in 2016-17 of which ca 4 600 tons were exported. Exports have dwindled due to stiff competition from Guatemala. Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb) is grown in Sikkim and Darjeeling.

India is the largest producer in the world of the following main agro crops: Tea, mango, banana, cauliflower, ginger acid lime, sapota, cashew and milk.

  • Total value of output (2018-19): Rs 27.8 trillion
  • Foodgrain production (2021-22): 316 million tonnes
  • Vegetable production: 90 million tonnes
  • Fruit production: 47.5 million tonnes
  • Agricultural and allied products exports (2021-22): USD 50.3 bn
  • Agricultural and allied products imports (2021-22): USD 32.4 bn
  • Sugar production (2019-20): 27.4 million tonnes
  • Milk production: 138 million tonnes (2013-14)
  • Total cattle population (10/2000): 313 million
  • Fish production: 9.6 million tonnes (2013-14)
  • Spice production: 3.1 million tonnes¹
  • Tractors sold: 898 000 (2018-19)
  • Marine fishing fleet: 281 000 traditional craft, 53 648 mechanised craft and some 170 large fishing vessels
2003-04 figures unless otherwise noted
¹ 2001-02
² 2002-03


Mangoes and lychees Above pic: Mangoes and lychees. India contributes over half of the world mango (Mangifera indica) production. Indian mangoes come in dozens if not hundreds of varieties. Mangoes are very healthy as can be seen from this nutrition table. 2005 has seen a bumper crop of mangoes, West Bengal's production alone will be around 800 000 tons. Mangoes worth ? 840 m were exported in fiscal year 2003-04.

India exported a wide range of agricultural products valued at over USD 50 billion during 2021-22. Wheat, oil meals, shellac, rice, tea, coffee, cotton, cashew, spices and wheat are some of the main exported agro products. Fresh processed fruits and vegetable exports amount to an estimated USD 400 million. Rice remained a major agro product with almost USD 9.7 bn worth of rice exported in 2021-22. Wheat exported increased to USD 2.2 bn in 2021-22. Spice exports amounted to 948 000 tons with a value of USD 2.6 bn in 2016-17. Spices exported include chili (400 000 tons), cumin (119 000 tons), black pepper, cardamom, coriander, pepper, mint and fenugreek. Agri imports amounted to USD 2.3 billion, mainly comprising of edible oils. India is the second largest rice exporting nation after Thailand.




Fishing boats
A minor fishing harbour at Namkhana - Southern West Bengal



Cotton in India is cultivated in an area totalling over 11 million hectares, more than any other country. India is the largest producer of cotton in the world, although yields per hectare are still low compared to other major producers such as China and the United States. Yields differ depending on the type of agroclimatic conditions and seeds used. Total production surpassed 33.7 million bales (@ 170 kgs) during 2016-17. The four largest cotton producing states include Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.

The export of cotton is expected to grow to 930 000 tons in 2017-18 out of a total production of over 6 million tons.


India is the largest producer of jute fibre. West Bengal and Bihar are the largest jute growing states. Jute cultivation is labour intensive and gives a livelihood to an estimated four million families. Jute is a very versatile fibre and has many applications such as biodegradeble packaging material (Hessian and sacking). Tossa, White, Mesta and Bimli are the most prominent varieties of jute grown.