Rice is the essential food crop of India, Rice Cultivation covers about 1/4th of the total cropped area and supplying food to about half of the population.
This is the food of the people living in the eastern and southern parts of the country, particularly in areas with over 150 cm annual rainfall. There are about 10,000 varieties globally, out of which about 4,000 are available in India.
Rice is very important for thousands of millions of individuals. More than 2,000 million people get 60 to 70 per cent of their calories from rice and its products in Asia alone. Recognizing the importance of this crop, the UNGA declared 2004 the “International Year of Rice” (IYR).
The article of IYR—“Rice is life” reflects the significance of rice as a primary food source and the interpretation that the production of rice is important for food security, poverty relief and better livelihood.
Conditions of Growth:
Rice is produced under varying conditions in India from 8° to 25° N latitude and sea level to about 2,500 metres altitude. It is a tropical crop and needs high heat and humidity for its successful growth. The temperature should be reasonably high at a mean monthly of 24.1°C. It should be 20.1°- 22°C at the moment of sowing, 23°-25°C during growth and 25°-30°C at the harvesting time. The average annual rainfall needed by rice is 150 cm.
It is the dominant crop in over 200 cm annual rainfall and is still an essential crop in areas of 100-200 cm rainfall. The 100 cm isohyet forms the limitation of rice in rainfed areas. In areas obtaining less than 100 cm annual rainfall, rice cultivation is done with the help of irrigation, as is done in Punjab, Haryana and western UP. About 40% of rice crop in India is grown under irrigation.
However, it is the temporal diffusion of rainfall rather than the total amount of annual rainfall which is more decisive. The rain should be reasonably distributed throughout the year, and no month should have less than 12 cm of rainfall. A lesser amount of rainfall is also sufficient during the harvesting.
The areas must be flooded under 10-12 cm deep water at sowing and during the early stages of growth. Therefore, the crop area must be level and have low mud walls to retain moisture. This strange requirement of rice makes it primarily a crop of plain areas.
In hilly areas, you should cut hill inclines into terraces to cultivate rice. Such cultivation in which you cut the hill gradients into terraces and popularly you know it as terraces cultivation. The water supply to the hill terraces is not as much as in the plain areas, and the rice grow in hilly regions.
Soil and Labour Requirement
Farmers can grow rice on various soils, including silts, loams and gravels and can tolerate acidic and alkaline soils. However, in-depth fertile clayey or loamy soils which can smoothly puddle into the mud and develop cracks on drying are considering ideal for raising this crop.
Such soil requirements make it a crop of river valleys, deltas, flood plains and coastal plains and a predominant crop there. You can utilize high-level loams and lighter soils for quick maturing rice varieties. Black lava soil is also helpful for rice cultivation. With the improvement in technology, the brussels sprouts cultivation process is similar to rice.
Rice culture is not much fitted to mechanization and is called ‘hoe-culture’. Most of the work of fields like seedbed levelling, cultivation, winnowing, etc You can do this process through human hands. Thus it is labour-intensive cultivation and requires an ample supply of cheap labour for its prosperous cultivation.
It is, therefore, primarily growing in regions of high population, which provide abundant labour and, at the same time, offer a ready market for its consumption. Moreover, in most rice-producing states, labour is locally available. Still, in Punjab and Haryana, rice cultivation mainly depends upon the migrant labourers from Bihar and eastern UP. For Rice cultivation, the New Holland 3600 is one of the best tractors. It attaches with cage wheels and can run forward and backwards at the same speed to reduce farming time.
To sum up, it can remarked that rice needs plenty of heat, plenty of labour, plenty of rain and plenty of alluvium to provide plenty of food for plenty of people. There is no other food crop so large as rice in India.
Methods of Cultivating Rice:
Following techniques of rice cultivation are as follows :-
- Broadcasting method:
Farmers sow the seeds disperse through hand. This method is practising in those places which are comparatively dry and less productive and do not have much labour to work in the areas. It is the most comfortable method requiring minimum input, but its production is also minimum.
- Drilling method:
Two persons can do plough the land and sow the seeds. This method is popular in peninsular India.
- Transplantation method
This method is practising in areas of fertile soil, abundant rainfall and a plentiful supply of labour. To begin with, you sow the seeds in the nursery and prepare the seedlings . Then, after 4-5 weeks, the seedlings are uproot and planting in the field. You can do entire process through hand. It is, therefore, a complicated method and requires heavy inputs. But at the same time, it delivers some of the highest gains.
- Japanese method:
This method includes using great yielding seeds, sowing the sources in a raised nursery-bed and transplanting the seedlings in rows to make weeding and fertilizing easy. It also involves using a heavy dose of fertilizers to obtain very high yields. The Japanese way of rice cultivation is familiar among central rice-producing regions of India.
Rice Cropping Seasons:
Rice cultivation is almost throughout the year in hot and humid regions of eastern and southern parts of India, where 2 to 3 crops in a year are common. But in the hilly parts and north of the countryside, the winters are excessively cold for rice cultivation. So only one crop is possible in one year.
India is the second-largest producer and consumer of rice globally after China. And accounts for 21 per cent of the world’s total rice production.
In 53 years from 1950-51 to 2003-04, the production, area and yield have increased by about four times. It is fascinating to note that the increase in production is much higher than the growth rate in the area under rice cultivation. This is due to the rise in yields resulting from better inputs and farm practices.
Thus, there has been a fair gain in the extent of the cultivated area. But a substantial gain in yield and production. Increased irrigation facilities in drier regions, reclamation of saturated soils and introduction of new high-yielding strains crops (particularly in Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu) made this probable.
There was a record production of 93.4 million tonnes in 2001-02. Yield also reached the highest level of 2,077 kg/hectare. But unprecedented drought conditions in 2002-03 resulted in a sharp decline in rice production, area, and rice yield in India. However, a modest comeback has made in 2003-04 to produce this high level of yield and farmers uses a Mahindra 475 for different applications.
Despite the spectacular progress, our yield of 2,051 kg per hectare (2003-04) is much lower than 3,601 kg in China, 4,775 kg in America, 6,240 kg in Japan and 6,550 kg in Korea. This indicates that there is still vast scope for improving production.
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