Karnataka is divided in ten agro-climatic zones, taking into consideration the rainfall pattern, soil types, texture, depth and physio-chemical properties, elevation, topography, major crops and the type of vegetation (Figure 17). The state’s rich and diverse agriculture contributes 28.6% to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).1 64.6% of the geographical area of the state is under cultivation and farmers and agricultural labourers account for 56.5% of the Karnataka’s workforce (Census 2001). Karnataka is the largest producer of coffee, raw silk, sandalwood, ragi (finger millet), sunflower, tomato and India’s second largest producer of maize, safflower, grapes, pomegranate and onions. Horticultural crops with annual production of above 13 million tons, contributes to over 40% of the income from agriculture. In floricultural production, Karnataka occupies the second position in India.
70% of Karnataka’s geographical area is classified as arid or semi-arid. As of 2008-09, 32% of the cultivated area is irrigated.1 The cultivable area of the state is 66.1%. This includes the net sown area (55.1%), cultivable wasteland (2.3%), current fallow lands (6.7) and other fallow lands (2.1%). Agriculture is mainly dependent on the southwest monsoon but spreads well over three seasons:
Kharif: July to October; Accounting for 70% of the annual food grain and oilseed production; Major crops are millets, paddy, maize, pulses, groundnut, red chillies, cotton, soybean, sugarcane and tumeric; Cultivated area about 70 lakh hectares;
Rabi: October to March; Accounting for 22% of the annual food grain and 15% of the oilseed production; Major crops are wheat, barley, mustard, sesame, and peas; Cultivated area about 30 lakh hectares;
Summer: Accounting for 8% of the annual food grain and 15% of the oilseed production; Cultivated area about 6 lakh hectares.
The state mainly follows a rice-based cropping pattern. Major crop alternatives to rice are ragi, bajra, cotton, groundnut, jowar and maize.2 Other important crops are wheat and minor millets and pulses like tur, Bengal gram, horse gram, black gram, green gram, cowpea etc. Oilseeds include groundnut, sesame, sunflower, soybean and sunflower. Commercial crops include sugarcane in the eastern region, cotton in the north-western region and tobacco. Cashew, coconut, areca nut (southern region), cardamom, and chillies are other important crops. The Western Ghats are well known for coffee and tea plantations while maize is grown mainly in the northern region of the state. Due to its climate, the coastal region is favourable for the cultivation of fruit orchards. The area under cultivation of paddy, maize, pulses, sugarcane and tobacco has recorded exponential growth in the last five decades. While paddy increased from 10.28 lakh hectares in 1961 to 15.1 lakh ha in 2009, maize has seen a record increase from a mere 11,000 ha in 1961 to 12.9 lakh ha in 2009. Jowar saw a decrease in cultivation area from 29.7 lakh ha to around 17.8 lakh ha from 1961 to 2001. Over the past five decades, the net cropped area has seen a marginal decrease from 102.3 lakh ha (1961) to 101.7 lakh ha (2009) while the gross cropped area increased by nearly 17% from 105.9 lakh ha to 123.7 lakh ha in the same period.3 Horticulture covers 18.9 lakh ha with a production of 136.6 lakh tonnes. Fruits (mango, banana, papaya, grapes, sapota etc.) contribute 41.9%; vegetables (potato, tomato, onion, brinjal etc.) 45.3%; spices (ginger, dry chillies etc.) 6.1%; while the rest is shared by plantation crops (coconut, areca nut etc.) and flowers (marigold, jasmine, rose etc.).
Economic Survey Report 2015- 2016. Directorate of Economic and Statistics, Karnataka