Agriculture in India

history of agriculture in India

The history of Agriculture in India dates back to Indus Valley Civilization and even before that in some places of Southern India. India ranks second worldwide in farm outputs. As per 2018, agriculture employed 50% of the Indian work force and contributed 17-18% to country's GDP.


  • In the history of human culture the contribution of the Indian peoples in all fields has been of the greatest importance. From India we are said to have derived domestic poultry, shellac, lemons, cotton, jute, rice, sugar, indigo, the buffalo, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, sugar-cane, the games of chess, Pachisi, Polo, the Zero concept, the decimal system, the basis of certain philological concepts, a wealth of fables with moral import, an astonishing variety of artistic products, and innumerable ideas in philosophy and religion such as asceticism and monasticism.
    • source: Peoples of India - By William Harten Gilbert
  • Kuiper [...] clearly puts it [the word for wheat] in the group of foreign words adopted before the Aryans reached India, [...] there are problems [...]. The trouble begins with the non-attestation of the word in the Rigveda. [...] It is puzzling because this earliest extant text in Sanskrit is supposed to be linked with the earliest Indo-Aryan speakers who entered India. Moreover, the geographical area of the genesis of the Ṛgveda is considered a fertile wheat producing region [...] As a matter of fact, there is abundant archaeological evidence of wheat remains from the Punjab [...] from the period before the invasion of Indo-Aryan speakers.
    • About the Sanskrit word for wheat.
    • WOJTILLA 1999: The Sanskrit Godhūma Apropos of a short Incursion in Indo-European and Indo-Aryan prehistory. Wojtilla, Gyula. Akademiai Kiadoi, Budapest, 1999. (WOJTILLA 1999:228). Quoted in Talageri, S. G. (2010). The Rigveda and the Avesta. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. (WOJTILLA 1999:226-227)
  • Barley cultivation was developed in the Indus Valley.
    • Stephen Oppenheimer. Eden in the East: the Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia (Phoenix paperback, London 1999 (1998)), Stephen Oppenheimer, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2007). Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate.
  • Leach was among the first to recognize that the word rice, from Tamil-derived Greek oryza, ultimately stems from Sanskrit vrihi, and not some other way around. The etymology of vrihi as allegedly Dravidian was always a showpiece of the Dravidian substratum theory, hence of the AIT.
  • Another language family originating in some part of Sundaland was Austro-Asiatic, which includes the Mon-Khmer languages in Indochina (its demographic point of gravity being Vietnam) but also Nicobarese and the Munda languages of Chotanagpur, at one time possibly spoken throughout the Ganga basin. It is the Mundas who brought rice cultivation from Southeast Asia to the Ganga basin, whence it reached the Indus Valley towards the end of the Harappan age (ca. 2300 BC). In this connection, it is worth noting that Oppenheimer confirms that "barley cultivation was developed in the Indus Valley" (p.19), barley being the favourite crop of the Vedic Aryans (yava). Unlike the Mundas who brought rice cultivation from eastern India and ultimately from Southeast Asia to northwestern India, and unlike the Indo-European Kurgan people whose invasion into Europe can be followed by means of traces of the crops they imported (esp. millet), the Vedic Aryans simply used the native produce. This doesn't prove but certainly supports the suspicion that the Aryans were native to the Indus Valley.
    • Elst K. Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate (2007)
  • The conquest, the quickened pace of commerce, and the increase of traffic between India and the heartlands of the Umayyad and qAbbāsid caliphates, as well as western Asia, Africa and Europe, also led to a noteworthy dissemination of numerous Indian crops hard wheat, rice, sugarcane, new varieties of sorghum, banana, sour orange, lemon, lime, mango, as well as spinach, artichoke and eggplant/ aubergine among them and new agricultural techniques to parts of the world far beyond India. This process was relatively slow and less easily visible, but its results revolutionised agriculture and may well have been the most significant legacy of early Muslim rule in Sind over the long term.
    • Andre Wink, in The_New_Cambridge_History_of_Islam, Volume 3
  • [the Rohillas were, with few exceptions] the only sect of Mahometans in India who exercised the profession of husbandry; and their improvements of the various branches of agriculture, were amply recompensed by the abundance and superiour quality of the production of Rohilcund.
    • Forster G. A Journey from Bengal to England: Through the Northern Part of India I 1970. quoted from Jain, M. (2010). Parallel pathways: Essays on Hindu-Muslim relations, 1707-1857. 71
  • Masica (1979) remarks that "there is really no Indian agriculture as such, but a group of related regional complexes differing in important details, including inventories of cultivated plants. Sanskrit, being a supraregional language, incorporates terms relating to various regional features".
    • Masica (1979) (58). in Bryant, E. F. (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : the Indo-Aryan migration debate. Oxford University Press. ch 5
  • Recent archaeological finds show that Harappan wheat was cultivated in the region of Bihar (ie far to the east of Saptasindhu) at 2300.
    • (Frawley 2001: 70-71) cited from Kazanas, N. (2002). Indigenous Indo-Aryans and the Rigveda: Indo-Aryan migration debate. Journal of Indo-European Studies, 30(3-4), 275-334.
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