ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Agriculture

 
1. INTRODUCTION  
 
        Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihood in Tamil Nadu. More than two third of rural households in the State still depend primarily on agriculture for their sustenance, with 93 percent of farmers being small and marginal. The welfare and wellbeing of the State's population mainly depends either directly or indirectly on fortunes of agriculture. Moreover, the primary responsibility of the State Government is to ensure stability in agricultural 2 sectors and sustainability in agricultural production of the State. 
        Agriculture is undergoing perceptible changes as it gets transformed from traditional to modern economy which is an important step towards economic development. The traditional uncompromising practices followed in the erstwhile years and the systematic method of cultivation impregnated with Good Agricultural Practices focusing on environment for production of food grains are gaining momentum in the modern agriculture. The State Government is promoting environment friendly sustainable agriculture and encouraging farmers to adopt such practices with an objective to meet the demands put forth by the growing population in the food segment as well as the raw materials for agro-based industries in an  eco-friendly sustainable way.
         Government of Tamil Nadu is taking all out efforts to increase productivity and farmers’ income by adopting frontier agriculture technologies to a larger extent for various crops cultivated in Tamil  Nadu by  actively  involving  farmers and extension officers with due research backing. 
          The Government of Tamil Nadu is taking plethora of sound policies and revolutionary strategies to give impetus to agriculture by bringing in various agrarian reforms and crop specific,season specific,soil specific, climate specific,farm specific approaches in agriculture which is beleaguered by enigmatic weather,uncertainty in rainfall, slumping land area,plummeting water resources, deteriorating soil fertility, unrestrainable pests & diseases, 4 increased costs of critical inputs, difficulty in horizontal expanse of land resources, labor scarcity and vacillating market prices. 
          Government of Tamil Nadu has set a remarkable footprint in food grain production by achieving more than 100 Lakh Metric Tonnes. The technological breakthrough in increasing the productivity and the cultivable area with interventions such as integrated approach to enrich the Soil fertility; Mission on Sustainable Dry land Agriculture, System of Rice Intensification, Collective farming, Integrated Farming System, Farm mechanization; adoption of water conservation measures with Micro Irrigation; post-harvest management of crop produces, Risk Insurance, Agro information technological interventions; Organic farming, Food Processing Policy and interlinking agricultural markets through eNAM etc. 
 
2. VISION, OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
 2.1. Vision 
  • The prime focus of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University is to develop human resource for the upliftment of agriculture through quality agricultural education,enhancing the production and productivity of crops by meticulously planned agricultural research to educate and to enlighten farmers and extension officials through intensified extension education programmes.
  • The Vision 2023 document, innumerable efforts are taken to strengthen linkages with farmers and other stake holders by facilitating Agri-business Development juxtaposed with the State and National Agricultural Policy. To enable the farmers and rural youth to adopt new technologies and develop their skills in farming and other farm related activities, many courses are offered through Open and Distance learning mode. Efforts are taken to transform agriculture into 236 a commercially viable profession and to modify production strategies based on market preference.
 
2.2. Objectives
  • Strengthen institutional mechanisms for integrated policy, planning, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Ensure conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Formulate and popularize appropriate agro climatic and eco-friendly farming systems which would improve soil.
  • Health and intensify crop productivity and farm income.
  • Increase the income of farmers through agricultural diversification towards high value farming, while retaining the Core-competence in area of food crops and nutritional security.
  • To develop infrastructure facilities in sectors of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agriculture implements, extension Services, value addition and marketing across the agricultural supply chain. 
 
2.1.2. Strategies
  • Increase the yield of food grain, oilseeds and commercial crops by introducing site Specific Crop management technologies.
  • Increase on-farm income of the farm families by bringing down the cost of critical inputs, eliminating drudgery of farm
  • Labor, inter cultural operations, Post-harvest management etc.
  • Establishment of robust infrastructure facilities for production and distribution of critical inputs besides promoting. Intensification and diversification in agriculture.
  • Cost reduction in fertilizer application by adopting soil test based fertilizer recommendation and devising the mechanism of fertilizer distribution based on soil health card value.
  • Special thrust for dry land and summer crops targeted with proper plan to cover additional area and crop diversification.
  • Judicious utilization of available irrigation water, Integrated Nutrient Management and Integrated Crop protection measures to reduce crop loss and ensure sustainable production system in dry land area.
  • Focus on generating off-farm income opportunities to raise farmers’ income by extending assistance for setting up Farm and Value addition Machinery, Custom Hiring Centers, Dealership on micro irrigation system, Dealership for Input distribution, Kudimaramathu works, Work order for creation of Rain Water Harvesting structures, etc., to active Farmer
  • Producer Groups formed under Collective Farming.
  • Extensive campaigns for effective transfer of technology by integrating all stakeholders in agriculture.Enrichment of Soil Health by adopting ecological engineering principles and farming practices.
  • Agro technological information dissemination and real time problem solving right from seed to seed by introducing “My Farm Guide” through Uzhavan app and adopting modern Information Embedded Intelligence Technological Tools such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) for providing instant solutions to the farm problems.
  • Encouraging the adoption of climate resilient practices, insulating the famers from income loss supported by crop insurance and formulation of crop contingency plan based on weather forecast and other measures tackling the risk due to natural calamity.
  • Fostering Integrated farming practices by integrating farming with allied sector stepping towards additional income of the farmers and also for ecological regeneration, diversification, soil health 22 improvement and increasing the per unit productivity.
  • Encouraging Good Agricultural Practices among farming community as a strategy with foresighted vision of ensuring quality in food and fodder for domestic consumption and Export.
  • Judicial usage of water, Nutrient, Plant protection Chemicals and labour for conserving energy and cost which ultimately will increase in resource & input use efficiency and bring quality produces.
  • A Comprehensive Input Supply and Management System ensuring quality of critical inputs besides improving the delivery mechanism.
  • Empowerment of Women farmers by extending handholding support in farming and allied activities.Improving marketing efficiency by reducing the price spread between producer and consumer/export prices of agricultural produce.
  • Creation of water harvesting structures like Percolation ponds, farm ponds, community ponds, check dams, Village ponds for ground water recharge and crop production.
  • Providing extension and advisory services on real time basis to farmers and other stakeholders by using Information andCommunication Technology for optimizing their productivity and income.
  • Linking farmers with Markets can be either “top down” in which sources of demand seek a group of farmers to fulfill that demand, or “bottom up” in which groups of farmers are integrated to seek sources for supply through value addition of Agriculture produce. 
 
3. AGROCLIMATIC REGIONS OF TAMIL NADU
             Tamil Nadu Government that leaves no stone unturned for uplifting the economic status of farmers has conceived agriculture  – demand led  –industrialization strategy to increase the agricultural productivity so as to expand the internal demand for intermediate and consumer goods which would generate higher income for the farmers. Tamil Nadu State has been classified into seven distinct agro-climatic zones based on rainfall distribution, irrigation pattern,soil characteristics,cropping pattern and Portal other physical, ecological and social characteristics Including administrative divisions.  
 
AGRO CLIMATIC REGIONS OF TAMIL NADU 
   
S.No
Agro Climatic Zones
Districts Covered
1
North Eastern Zone
Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Cuddalore, Vellore, Villupuram and Tirunvannamalai
2
North Western Zone
Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Salem and Namakkal (Part)
3
Western Zone
Erode, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Theni, Karur (part), Namakkal (part), Dindigul, Perambalur and Ariyalur (part)
4
Cauvery Delta Zone
Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Trichy and parts of - Karur, Ariyalur, Pudukkottai and Cuddalore
5
Southern Zone
Madurai, Sivagangai, Ramanathapuram, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi
6
High Rainfall Zone
Kanyakumari
7
Hilly Zone
The Nilgiris and Kodaikanal (Dindigul)
 Source: Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, GoTN
 
 AGRICULTURE SCENARIO IN TAMIL NADU
 
               Tamil Nadu is geographically located between 8°5' and 13°35' North latitude and between 76°14’ and 80°21' East longitude. Tamil Nadu falls in semi-arid to dry sub humid climate. This geographical position supports higher crop productivity under irrigation. The total geographical area of Tamil Nadu is 130.33 Lakh Ha which constitutes 4 percent of the Nation’s geographical area   (10th Largest State) with coastal line of 1,076 km. Tamil Nadu is one of the most water starved States endowed with only 3 per cent of the Nation's water resources putting high stress on irrigation water availability and vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations causing uncertainty in Agriculture production.  However, the Tamil Nadu Government with its proactive policies and strategic implementation of schemes overwhelmed these challenges and paved the way for continued increase of food grains.
  
Tamil Nadu land use pattern as per the latest statistical report
Table 1: Land Use Pattern
 S. No
 Details
 Area (L.ha)
 % with reference to total Geographical area
1
Forest
21.57
16.55
2
Net Cropped Area (*)
47.38
36.35
3
Area under Misc. Tree crops
2.21
1.70
4
Permanent Pastures
1.08
0.83
5
Current fallow
9.20
7.06
6
Other fallow
19.06
14.62
7
Culturable Waste
3.22
2.48
8
Land put to non-agricultural use
22.03
16.90
9
Barren and unculturable land
4.58
3.51
Total Geographical Area
Cropping Intensity (%)
130.33
100.00
125.41
-
 Source: Department of Agriculture
 
                  Tamil Nadu has only 2.5 per cent of the water resources of India. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water in the State using 75 per cent of the State’s water resources. The State has 46,540 million cubic meters (MCM) of total water potential including groundwater potential. Out of the total water potential, the total surface water potential in the State is 24,864 MCM.      Hence, the Ground water is the only alternative source available for further development in agriculture. Out of total 1,166 Firkas, 427 Firkas are categorised as Safe, 462 Firkas as Over-Exploited, 79 Firkas as Critical, 163 Firkas as Semi-Critical and 35 Firkas as Saline in Ground water of the State.
 
 Soil Resources in Tamil Nadu   
 
               The earth needs to be nurtured with a mother’s care because; Earth gives everything for sustaining life.      Soils that form one of the most precious natural resources of earth. For sustainable agricultural production, it is necessary to focus attention on the soil and the climate resource base, current status of soil degradation and soil-based agro technology for optimizing land use. India lives in villages and agriculture forms the backbone of the Country’s economy. Soil is the natural and a vital resource for growing food, fiber and firewood to meet the human needs.  The Soils are highly vulnerable to degradation and nature takes very long period to form an inch of the top soil mainly due to the combined effects of climate, vegetation, organisms, relief and time on the rocks and parent material.  Soil is a life supporting system upon which human beings have been dependent from the dawn of the civilization.
               The soil performs many functions such as media for biomass production, filtering and buffering, a habitat and gene reservoir, a source of raw materials, a substrate for buildings, roads and other structures and as an archaeological artifact.  Impairment in any function of soils reduces their quality, value and capacity to provide the basic necessities to support ecosystems.     Hence, comprehensive information on soil resources in terms of types of soils, their spatial distribution, extent, their limitations, erosion, salinization / alkalization, water logging and their potential / capabilities, is required for a variety of purposes such as command area development, soil Conservation in catchment areas, rain fed farming, watershed management and reclamation of degraded lands. Such information also plays an important role in non-agricultural sectors like, construction of roadways, railways, dams and engineering structures, etc.  Management of soil resources is essential for continued agricultural productivity and protection of the environment. 
                Tamil Nadu is the southernmost state of India. It is located between 8.05’ and 13.35’ North latitudes and 76.14’ and 80.21 East longitudes. It covers an area of about 13 Mha and accounts for about 4 per cent of the total geographical area of the country. The Tamil Nadu State forms part of the peninsular shield and composed of geologically ancient rock of diverse origins (i.e. different soils). About three – fourth of the area of the state is unclassified crystalline rocks of Achaean age and the rest is sedimentary rocks.
                The State can broadly be divided into three major physiographic divisions and 10 land forms. The climate is Semi-arid in the plains and humid to Sub-humid in the hills with annual rainfall from 750 mm in some parts of the plains to over 2400 mm in the high hills. In all 94 soil families, classified into six orders. Soil depth is not a limiting factor for crop growth in Tamil Nadu (14% shallow and very shallow soils of a TGA of the state). The texture of soils of Tamil Nadu covers a wide range from sand to clay (18% sandy surface 53% loamy and 22% clay).  The soil drainage is not a major problem for crop production in the state (14% poorly to imperfectly drained soils, 64% moderately drained to well-drained soil and 15% of TGA excessively drained soils). 
                The soil calcareousness affects 34 per cent of the area in the Tamil Nadu State. Regarding Land Capability classification in Tamil Nadu, 79 per cent of the area is suitable for cultivation and 21 per cent of the area is not suitable for cultivations. Of the lands suited for cultivation, good land (class II) covers about 34 per cent, moderately good land (class III) covers about 30 per cent and fairly good land (class IV) covers an out of 15 per cent of the area of the state. 
 
TYPES OF SOIL IN DIFFERENT AGROCLIMATIC ZONES:
 
SI.NO
Agro Climatic Zones
Soil Type
 
1
North Eastern Zone
1. Red Sandy Loam
2.Clay Loam
3.Saline coastal Alluvium
2
North Western Zone
1.Non Calcareous Red
2.Non Calcareous Brown
3.Calcareous Black
3
Western Zone
1. Red Loamy
2. Black
4
Cauvery Delta Zone
1. Red Loamy
2.Alluvium
5
Southern Zone
1.Coastal Alluvium
2.Black
3.Red Sandy soil
4.Deep red soil
6
High Rainfall Zone
1.Saline Coastal
2.Alluvium
3.Deep Red Loam
7
Hilly Zone
Lateritic
 
Source: TNAU Agritech portal, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore