Rice Cultivation in India

The Economic Survey 2018-19 stressed the need for incentivising farmers to conserve water, especially because cropping pattern in India is highly skewed in favour of crops that are water-intensive.In a last-ditch attempt to arrest the fall in its water table, Haryana is incentivising farmers to quit growing water-intensive paddy and shift to crops like maize and pulses. In this regard, rice is one of the most water-intensive crops and becomes important.


Rice is the most important staple food crop of India, which feeds more than half of our population. It accounts for one-third production of foodgrains in the country. India is the second largest producer of rice in the world after China. Rice, an indigenous crop, is grown all over the country with highest concentration in north-eastern and southern parts of the country.it occupies above 43 millions hectares of land. It is mainly a tropical crop and requires a mean temperature of 240C and annual rainfall of 150cm.

                      Rice is a kharif crop in north India. In the south , it can be grown throughout the year if irrigation is available.


Temperature:Rice cultivation is conditioned by temperature differences at different phase of growth. It grows best in warm and humid areas. The critical man temperature for flowering and fertilisation ranges from 16OC and 20Oc whereas during ripening, the range is from 18OC to 32OC. Temperatures beyond 350C affect not only grain retention, but also grain –filling. It requires ample sunshine and water. It can grow o different altitude as long as its temperature requirements are satisfied.For example, it is grown in Kashmir at a height of 2000m and in Kuttanand region of Kerala which is below sea-level. 

Rainfall:Rice requires good rainfall, in the rangeof 150 to 300 cm. In fact, rice is mainly an irrigated crop. It requires much water both in and upon the soil. During the earlier phase of its growth, it requires 5 to 10 cm of standing water. Therefore, the monsoon lands are best suited for rice production as heavy irrigation is required. Deltas, estuaries, flood plains and valleys of rivers and coastal plains with heavy soils provide excellent conditions for the cultivation of rice.


The rice crops in India can be grouped into two categories:

(a) Upland Rice; and 

(b) Lowland Rice

(a) The upland Rice

This type of rice is grown on mountainous regions.Upland rice is sown in March-April and harvested in September-October.This type of rice cultivation depends on the distribution of rainfall only. The entire crop is used locally.

(b) Lowland Rice

Lowland rice is grown on low-lying regions. It is sown in June and harvested in October.This type of rice requires plenty of water during the sowing and harvesting period.The produce is used for local consumption as well as supplied to other regions.


Deep fertile clayey or loamy soils are well suited for rice cultivation. Rice thrives in the alluvial soils along the river banks. The soil should be able to retain standing water in the field. This phenomenon protects the plants from pests which cannot survive under water. Soils need manure and fertilisers to produce a higher yield.


In India, rice is cultivated by two methods (a) the dry method; and (b) the puddled method.

      The dry system of cultivation is mainly confined to areas which depend on rains and do not have supplementary irrigation facilities. In this method, the seeds are sown in rows with the help of drills in heavy rainfall areas and scattered with hands in areas of moderate rainfall.

     The puddled or wet method of cultivation is practised in areas which have assured and adequate supply of water. In this method, the land is ploughed thoroughly and filled with three to five centimetres of standings water in the field. This water is maintained in the fields up to a depth of two to three centimetres till the seedlings are well established.

The steps followed for cultivating rice are:

(a) Sowing of seeds                                 (b) Transplanting 

(c) Harvesting; and                                  (d) Processing

Sowing of Seeds

Rice is sown in India in the following ways:

(i) Broadcasting Method :This method is prevalent in those region where labour is scarce and soil is infertile. The seeds are scattered all over the field after ploughing it. This is done before the onset pf monsoon.

(ii) Drilling Method:This method is followed in the Peninsular India. In this method, Seeds are sown in the furrows with the help of a drill normally made of bamboo. The main advantage of this method is that the seeds fall in the furrows in a systematic way. Therefore, the germination rate of these seeds is high and method is time consuming.

(iii) Dibbling Method:A dibble is an implement for making holes in the ground for seeds or plants. The Dibbling Method refers to sowing of seeds at regular intervals in the furrows.

Transplanting Method;The method is common in the deltaic and flood plain regions and requires abundance of labour. Here seedlings are first grown in nurseries and after 4 to 5 weeks when saplings attain 25 to 30 cm of height they are transplanted into prepared rice fields in group of four to six at a distance of 30-45 cm. In the beginning, the field is flooded with a 2-3 cm deep water. Subsequently, the depth of water level is increased to 4-6 cm till the crop matures. This method of rice cultivation is popular because it gives a higher yield

Advantages of Transplanting Method:

(i) Only the healthy plants are picked for resowing in the field and unhealthy plants are discarded.

(ii) Weeds are removed while resowing.

(iii) There is less wastage of seeds as compared to broadcasting method.

(iv) This method gives higher yield.

Japanese Method:This method is an improved form of transplantation method, introduced in 1953 and gas gained wide popularity in recent years. In this method, high yielding varieties of seeds, called ‘Japonica’ are used. It includes the following practices:

(i) As in the previous method, the seedlings are prepared in the nurseries.

(ii) The rows of plants are fixed at a distance of 25 cm. Similarly the distance between the plants is about 15 cm. It is easy for the farmer to give proper care to the plants by weeding them.

(iii) Manure is used extensively to increase the yield

(iv) The Japonica seeds give a higher yield in this method.

Harvesting and Processing

The fields are drained dry just before the crop is harvested. The traditional cutting of the stalk is simple. A sickle ( a curved knife) is used for this purpose. It is labour intensive, as each stalk is hand reaped. Each stem is cut about 60 cm below the grain to facilitate threshing. The moisture content of the crop is reduced by drying the stalks in the sun.

Threshing:Threshing is done by beating the sheaves against the wooden bars. The grains are separated from the stalks. Threshing is done in the  rice fields in order to minimise the cost of transportation.

Winnowing:It is process of removing the unwanted husk from the grains. The simple method involves pouring the grains from a height on a windy day when the grains fall to the ground and the chaff is blown aside.

Milling;Milling is done to remove the yellowish husk from the grain in a wooden mortar with a heavy pestle. This resulted in a high percentage of broken rice. Modern milling is done by machine. Such polished rice has a glossy texture, but lacks nutrition, as much of its vitamins are lost due to excessive rubbing. After this the polished rice is graded and stored in sacks. Traditional method of removing the outer husk is by parboiling the grains and then drying them before removing the outer cover.


India contributes 22 per cent of rice production in the world. West Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh , Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are the leading producers of rice in the country. The other rice producing states are Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala , Gujarat and Telangana. Besides these States, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh , Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Mizoram also produces rice.

West Bengal:Rice is the leading crop of West Bengal occupying amount three-fourth of its cropped area. In West Bengal, farmers grow three crops of rice called ‘aus’, ‘aaman’, and ‘boro’.

Uttar Pradesh:Uttar Pradesh has the largest area under rice cultivation. Ruceis an important crp in the eastern region of the State (45%). Basti, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Siddharth Nagar, Maharajganj, Gonda and Azamgarh come under 100 leading riced producing districts in the country.

Andhra Pradesh :Rice occupies about one-third of the total cropped area of the state. Although the crop is grown throughout the State but five districts-West Godavari, Krishna, East Godavari. and Guntur together contribute more than half of the State’s rice production. The other rice producing districts are Kurnool, Anantapur, Srikakulam, Vishakhapatnam, Nellore and Cuddapah.

Punjab:Rice cultivation in the irrigated areas of Punjab was introduced in 1970s following the Green Revolution. Here 97% of the rice area is irrigated and due to higher input of High Yielding Variety seeds, fertiliers , mechanisation and finance per hectare yield  is the highest. Amritsar, Faridkot, Jalandhar and Patiala are the main rice producing areas in Punjab.

Tamil Nadu:Tamil Nadu is an important producer of rice. Here about 75 per cent of the produce is contributed by Tanjavur, South Arcot, Chingleput, north Arcot and Madhurai.

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