Despite all the appearances to the contrary, the soil of Rajasthan does support a substantial agricultural population (almost eighty percent) who harvest protein-rich crops like jowar and bajra. As a matter of fact, the agricultural sector accounts for almost 22.5 percent of the state’s GDP.
The state is the second largest producer of oilseeds (17.71 percent), and spices like coriander, cumin and fenugreek (10.89%). It is also the largest producer of rapeseed and mustard and accounts for 44.61 percent of the total national produce.
It accounts for close to 70% of the country’s production of guar. About 9.18 percent of country’s soyabean is produced by Rajasthan, which makes it the third largest producer of the crop. The state tops in the production of bajra (31.28%). It is also a major producer of food grains, gram, groundnut and pulses.
With the arrival of high-input extensive agriculture, people have been able to make considerable profits by turning to the production of cash crops such as sugar cane and cotton. As a result, this sector has boosted the economy of Rajasthan to a great extent. Wheat, corn and millets are the three most important crops of the region, along with pulses. The water from Indira Gandhi canal has proved to be a boon for the semi-arid regions, which are now being used to cultivate citrus fruits, including tangerines, oranges and lemons.
Though there are vast tracts of the desert in western Rajasthan, the ecological environment is semi-arid; in eastern Rajasthan, where rivers and a lush green cover are present, there is more rain, and the seasonal crops, fruits and vegetables are plentiful. The farms are mainly irrigated with the help of tanks and wells.
An era of technology and prosperity
Rajasthan’s minimal vegetation has been skilfully exploited to sustain large herds of sheep, goats and camels. In addition, the people of Rajasthan have evolved varieties of cattle, amongst the best in the country, well-adapted to these conditions. The farmers are taking full advantage of the new methods-irrigation, improved seeds, agro-machinery and credit to enhance their crop production and subsequently, lifestyles. The new methods have also led to an increase in the dairy produce, which was previously only consumed locally. Today, a large quantity of milk is collected by the public-sector dairies for pasteurisation and consumption all over India.