- Region is one of the basic concepts of geography. It has been defined differently by different geographers. A widely accepted definition of region is “an area that is different from other areas according to the specific criteria”. For example if we take crop as differentiating criteria then tea growing region will be different from wheat growing region.
- Region has also been defined as a differentiated segment of the earth surface (Whittlesey, 1929).
- Agricultural regionalization has attracted the attention of many scholars in the field of agricultural geography. The concept of regionalization is the process of dividing an area into territorial units of complexes of uniformities which is the result of a set of processes.
- Regionalization in agricultural geography is not simply an operation of dividing the country or a region into a number of territorial units but it is also method of understanding the agricultural pattern.
Delimitation of Agricultural Regions (Techniques)
Since the boundaries of agricultural regions are transitional and not sharply dividing lines, their precise delimitation is a difficult task. The main techniques used by geographers for the delimitation of agricultural regions are.
- Empirical technique.
- Single element technique.
- Multi-element (statistical) technique.
- Quantitative-cum-qualitative technique and
1. Empirical Technique
- Empirical technique is largely based on the experience of the farmers and the observed facts. Baker was the first geographer who adopted the empirical technique and demarcated the agricultural belts of USA.
- The Cotton belt, the Corn Belt, and the Wheat Belt of USA were demarcated on the basis of observed data. The areas in which corn was having the dominance were marked as Corn Belt.
- This technique gives a generalized picture of the cropping pattern and has the tendency of overgeneralization.
- The technique has, however, been criticized as it is less objective and relatively unscientific.
2. Single Element Technique
- This is an arbitrary technique in which the single element of agricultural landscape is taken into consideration.
- In this technique the relative position of different agricultural enterprises is taken into consideration. The demarcation of rice, wheat and bajra regions of India on the basis of first ranking crops (dominant crop) is an illustration of this technique.
- The main weakness of this technique is that it conceals (ignores) the position and importance of other crops grown in the region. In other words, it leads to overgeneralization. The demarcation of Punjab as a wheat region and western Uttar Pradesh as sugarcane belt conceals the importance of rice and other cash crops which are also grown in these areas.
- Thus, this technique describes the agricultural situation inadequately as crops are generally not grown in isolation. A combinational analysis of crops is more important than the single crop/enterprise region.
3. Multi-Element Or Statistical Technique
- The multi-element technique is an improvement over the empirical and single element techniques of agricultural regionalization.
- In this statistical technique, combination of the closely associated features is taken into consideration. The crop combination and livestock regions as demarcated by Weaver, Doi and Coppock are the example of this methodology.
- The main advantage of multi-element technique is that it is free from biasness and does not conceal the various agricultural phenomena which may be significant in the decision making process of the farmers.
- In the absence of reliable data this technique may not depict the ground reality of agricultural landscape of a region.
4. Quantitative-Cum-Qualitative Technique
- For the demarcation of agricultural regions, when the physical (terrain, slope, temperature, rainfall, soil, etc.), social (land tenancy, size of holdings and fields, religion, customs, etc.) and economic factors (capital investment, marketing, storage, etc.) are taken into consideration, such a technique is known as a quantitative-cum-qualitative technique of agricultural regionalization. An agricultural region, generally, is an area having homogeneity of crops and livestock. This technique has been applied by Baker (1926), Whittlesey (1936) and Carol (1952).
- The 14 main factors which should be taken into consideration for the demarcation of agricultural regions include six physical, viz.., relief, climate, water, soil, subsoil and natural vegetation; two cultural, viz.., cultural vegetation and cultural structures; and six functional, viz.., rural population, cultural and technological stage, farming operation, organization for providing the rural population with economic and cultural goods, and commerce.
- The non-availability of reliable data on the various facet of agriculture over the greater parts of the earth is the major constraint in the application of multi-facet technique for agricultural regionalization. Despite several limitations the qualitative-cum-qualitative technique has been adopted by geographers for the delimitation of agricultural region at the macro, meso and micro levels.
- The agricultural geographers have, however, could not develop a agricultural regionalization which may be universally accepted and which may help in understanding the agricultural at the local, regional, national and international levels.
- The major classification of Indian agricultural regions are based on topography, soil, climatic conditions, land use pattern, water supply, farming practices, crop combination and agricultural productivity. Agro-economic factors are also taken into consideration for classification of agricultural regions.
- In India, various attempts have been made from time to time for agricultural regionalization of the country.
Randhawa’s Agricultural Regions
The great and well-known agricultural scientist Dr. M.S. Randhawa has divided India into five main agricultural regions on the basis of climate, crops and livestock animals etc. These regions are –
- The Temperate Himalayas Region.
- The Dry Northern Wheat Region.
- The Eastern rice Region.
- The Malabar Coconut (Western West) Region.
- The Southern Millet (Medium Rainfall) Region.
1. The Temperate Himalayan Region
- The Temperate Himalayan region includes the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand in the West, and Arunachal Pradesh and Upper Assam in the east.
- It has two sub-divisions:
- The eastern part comprising of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Tripura and Upper Assam records heavy rainfall and are covered with thick forests. Here rice and tea are dominant crops.
- The western temperate Himalayan region consists of Jammu Kashmir, Himanchal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, this region is characterized by Horticulture (apple, cherries, pears, peach, almond, apricot and walnut). Other crops grown are maize, rice, wheat and potatoes.
2. The Northern Dry (Wheat) Region
- This region stretches over Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, north-west Madhya Pradesh, and irrigated part of Rajasthan.
- Average annual rainfall in this area is less than 75 cm. Parts of it are adequately irrigated by canals and tube wells.
- The main crops of this region are wheat, maize, cotton, mustard, gram, rice sugarcane and millets.
3. The Eastern Wet (Rice) Region
- It includes the greater parts of the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and coastal Andhra Pradesh.
- This region records more than 150 cm rainfall. Rice, jute, pulses, oil seeds, tea, and sugar cane are the main crops of this region.
4. The Western Wet (Malabar) Region
- The region stretches over from Maharashtra to Kerala. The average annual rainfall in this region is over 200 cm.
- Rice is the main food crop although coconut and plantation crops (rubber, coffee, spices, cashew nut etc) are also the main crops.
5. The Southern Coarse( Cereals) Region
- This agriculture region sprawls over Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Southern Uttar Pradesh (Bundelkhand), eastern Maharashtra, western Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and western Tamil Nadu. These are records rainfall between 50 to 100 cm.
- Millets, Bajra, cotton, groundnut, oilseeds and pulses are the main crops.
P Sengupta Agricultural Regionalisation
In 1968 P Sengupta has outlined four agricultural zones or Macro-Agricultural regions, eleven Meso-regions and sixty Micro-regions in Economic Regionalization of India. The Macro-regions are:
- Himalaya’s Agricultural Zone
- Dry Agricultural Zone
- Sub Humid Agricultural Zone
- Wet Agricultural Zone
The three zones are based on rainfall distribution except the Himalayan zone.
1. The Himalaya’s Agricultural Zone
- In this zone, the annual rainfall varies from 120 cm to 250 cm. It covers Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Kumaon Himalaya, and its foothills, Darjeeling, Assam Himalayas, etc.
- As the region is mountainous, the area is considered a negative area from point of view of cultivation and settlement.
2. The Dry Agricultural Zone
- Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan desert plain, western Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat are the areas which are dry and where average rainfall is about 75 cm a year.
- The area suffers from an acute shortage of water. Millets, wheat, oilseeds, cotton and groundnut are the main crops that are grown with the help of good irrigation facilities.
3. The Sub Humid Agricultural Zone
- This zone embraces a vast stretch of land in peninsular India from Bundelkhand plateau through the heart of lava plateaus down to the eastern coastal region. The annual rainfall in the region varies between 75 to 100 cm.
- The proportion of cultivated region reaches a high figure whenever water is available for irrigation.
- The most intensively cultivated areas are the Ganga plains and the eastern coast delta, where proportion of cultivated land to the areas comes to about 70 percent.
- Wheat, sugarcane, rice, gram, maize, millets, cotton, groundnut, oilseeds and tobacco are the main crops.
4. The Wet Agricultural Zone
- The zone comprises of north-eastern plateaus viz. Chotanagpur, Orissa, Bastar Plateau, central parts of Madhya Pradesh, Upper Mahanadi basin and Kaimur hills, and the eastern hills and plateaus.
- The annual rainfall varies from 100 to 125 cm.
- The important crops grown are rice, tea, jute oilseed, gram, millets, wheat, sugarcane, banana, coconut, etc.
Icar’s Classification Of Agricultural Regionalization
The scheme suggested by Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) is simple and comprehensive.
It is based on the predominance of crops and crop associations. Accordingly, India can be divided into the following agricultural regions:
1. Rice-Jute-Tea Region
- This vast region includes lowlands, valleys and river deltas in state of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Orissa, northern and eastern Bihar, parts of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and Tarai region of Uttar Pradesh.
- The rainfall varies from 180 to 250 cm.
- Rice is the predominant crop due to fertile alluvial soil, abundant rainfall, and high summer temperatures.
- Jute is mainly grown in the Hugli basin of West Bengal but some areas have been brought under jute cultivation in the Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Orissa, and Tarai region of U.P. Tea is mainly grown in Assam, Darjeeling, and Jalpaiguri areas of West Bengal, and Tripura. Sugarcane and tobacco are grown in Bihar.
- Coconut is grown in coastal areas. Mango, pineapple, betel leaves, bananas, jack fruits, and oranges are also the main horticulture crops.
2. Wheat And Sugarcane Region
- This region comprises of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, western Madhya Pradesh, and northeastern Rajasthan.
- Most of the areas have rich fertile alluvial soil with some parts having black and red soil. Rainfall is moderate, a large part of which is caused by the south-west monsoon in summer.
- Winter rainfall is caused by western disturbances in winter. Irrigation is a vital input in drier areas. As the name indicates the region is dominated by wheat and sugarcane cultivation.
- The main wheat belt of India extends over Punjab, Haryana, Ganga Yamuna doab of Uttar Pradesh, and north-eastern Rajasthan. Sugar cane is mainly grown in Uttar Pradesh and contiguous parts of Bihar.
- Rice, pulse, and maize are other important crops.
3. Cotton Region
- It spread over the Regur or Black cotton soil area of the Deccan plateau, where the rainfall varies from 75 to 100 cm.
- Cotton is the main crop but Jowar, Bajra, Gram, Sugarcane, Wheat, etc are also grown.
4. Maize And Coarse Crops Region
- Western Rajasthan and northern Gujarat are included in this region. The rainfall is scanty and normally below 50 cm.
- Agriculture is possible only with the help of irrigation. Maize is mainly frowned in the Mewar plateau where wheat and ragi are also produced.
- In the southern part rice, cotton and sugarcane are grown. Bajra and pulses are grown throughout the region.
5. Millet And Oilseeds Region
- This area includes the area of poor soils and broken topography in the Karnataka plateau, parts of Tamil Nadu, southern Andhra Pradesh, and eastern Kerala. The rainfall varies from 75 to 125 cm.
- The millets include Bajra, jowar and ragi while oilseeds grown are groundnut and caster. Pulses are also grown. Mangoes and bananas are important fruit crops.
6. Fruits And Vegetable Regions
- This region extends from Kashmir Valley in west to Assam in the east. The rainfall varies from 50 cm in west to 200 cm in east.
- Apple, peach, cherries, plum, apricot are grown in the west while oranges are important in the east. Besides rice, maize, ragi, potatoes, chillies and vegetables are also grown.