Introduction

            Bihar, with its bountiful natural resources of fertile soil, abundant water, varied climate and rich cultural and historical heritage is one of the most fascinating states of India. The farmers are intelligent and hard working. Therefore agriculture has been described as the core competence of Bihar by the Hon'ble President of India.

            Agriculture is the vital source of wealth in the State with about 79% of its population is engaged in agricultural pursuits. Bihar's productive contribution in food grain, fruit, vegetables, spices and flowers can increase manifold with improved methods and system management.

Agro-Climate Condition

Bihar with a geographical area of about 94.2 thousand square km is divided by river Ganges into two parts, the north Bihar with an area of 53.3 thousand square km and the south Bihar having an area of 40.9 thousand square km. Based on soil characterization, rainfall, temperature and terrain, four main agro-climatic zones in Bihar have been identified. These are: Zone-I, North Alluvial Plain, Zone-II, north East Alluvial Plain, Zone-III A South East Alluvial Plain and Zone-III B, South West Alluvial Plain, each with its own unique prospects.  Agro climatic zone I and II is located north of the river Ganges whereas the Zone III is located south of the river Ganges. Zone I is situated in the north western part of the state whereas zone II is located in the north eastern part. Zone I and II are flood prone whereas zone III is drought prone. Potential wise all three agro climatic zones have vast untapped potential for increasing the productivity of food grain crops. Across the state soil texture is varies from sandy loam to heavy clay. However the majority type belongs to loam category which is good for crop cultivation. The natural precipitation varies from 990 to 1700 mm. Most of the precipitation is received during the month of July to September. Soil PH varies from 6.5 to 8.4. There are three crop seasons- Kharif, Rabi and Zaid. Rice, wheat and pulses are grown in all the districts however the choice of the crop and crop rotation varies across the agro climatic zone. Being located between 25 to 27 degree North latitude the climate of Bihar is of mostly sub-tropical. Nevertheless region close to Tropic of Cancer experiences tropical climate during summer. Like all the Indian states Bihar also reels under hot summer season during months of March to May. Average temperature is 35-40 degree Celsius throughout the summer months. April and June are the hottest months of the year. December to January is the winter season in Bihar because of its location is Northern hemisphere. The winter in Bihar is mild with average temperature being 5 to 10 degree Celsius. Bihar gets its maximum rainfall during South-West monsoon season which prevails from June to September. The average rainfall of Bihar is around 120 cm. As far as soil resources are concerned Bihar has three types of soil: montane, alluvium and marshy/swampy soil of Tarai. The detailed description about the agro climatic zone is as follows.

Table 1: Name of the districts under each Agro-Climatic Zone

S.No.

Agro-climatic zone

Districts

1.

Agro- climatic zone I

(Northern West)

West Champaran, East Champaran, Siwan, Saran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Madhubani, Darbhanga, Samastipur, Gopalganj, Begusarai

2.

Agro-climatic Zone II

(Northern East)

Purnea, Katihar, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Khagaria, Araria, Kishanganj.

3.

Agro-climatic zone IIIA

(Southern East)

Sheikhpura, Munger, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Bhagalpur & Banka.

4.

Agro-climatic zone IIIB

(Southern West)

Rohtas, Bhojpur, Buxar, Bhabhua, Arwal, Patna, Nalanda, Nawada, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Gaya.

Table 2: Important Physiographic features of the Agro-climatic Zone

Sl. No.

Agro-climatic zone

Soil

pH

Organic Matter (%)

Available Nitrogen (Kg./Ha.)

Available Phosphorus (Kg./Ha.)

Available Potash (Kg./Ha.)

1.

Agro- climatic zone I

(Northern West)

Sandy loam, loam

6.5–8.4

0.2-1.0

150-350

5-50

100-300

2.

Agro-climatic Zone II

(Northern East)

Sandy loam, Clay loam

6.5–7.8

0.2-1.0

150-300

10-35

150-250

3.

Agro-climatic zone III

(Southern East & West)

Sandy loam, Clay loam, loam, Clay

6.8–8.0

0.5-1.0

200-400

10-100

150-350

 

Sl. No.

Agro-climatic zone

Soil

Total Rainfall (mm)

Temperature (0C)

Max.

Min.

1.

Agro- climatic zone I

(Northern West)

Sandy loam, loam

1040 – 1450 (1245.00)

36.6

7.7

2.

Agro-climatic Zone II

(Northern East)

Sandy loam, Clay loam

1200 – 1700

( 1450.00)

33.8

8.8

3.

Agro-climatic zone III

(Southern East & West)

Sandy loam, Clay loam, loam, Clay

990 – 1240 (1115.00)

37.1

7.8

General Climatic Features

In general climate of the state is characterized by three distinct seasons, i.e. cool- day winter, hot-day summer and warm wet rainy season. Cool- day season extends from October to February with fairly low temperature varying between 7C and 16C, very little rain, clear sky and relatively low humidity. Hot dry Season spreads over March to Mid June with temperatures rising upto 44/45C with low humidity. Warm-wet season is the period of monsoon from mid-June to September. During this period temperatures range from 24C to 35C with cloudy sky and high humidity. The average annual rainfall varies from 1100 to 1250 mm. The daily temperature comes down to 7-8C in December – January in north Bihar plains.

Since rainfall distribution is dictated by climate and vegetation, the rainfed areas are constrained in their choice of crops, technology and resultant levels of productivity. On an average, the plain region of Bihar records a mean annual total rainfall of 1297 mm which is distributed in the monsoon, autumn, winter and summer seasons as 1039, 32, 110 and 58 mm, respectively. Zone wise agro- climatic situation of Bihar plains enunciates that agro-climatic zone II records the highest rainfall (1381.9mm) followed by zone I (1344.35mm) and zone III receives the least rainfall (1165.45mm). Rainfall during the monsoon varies from the lowest of 935.55mm in zone III to the highest of 1105.9 mm in zone II and a moderate rainfall of 1077.3 mm in zone I. During the autumn months (October-November), zones I, II and III receive the rains of 35.15 (zone I), 28.7 (zone II) and 31.95mm (zone III). Summer season receives 1102, 135.0 and 86.00 mm in agro-climatic zones I, II and III, respectively.

Physiography and Soil

(a)       Agro- Climatic Zone I: The lands of this zone which are alluvial plains are sloppy towards the south east direction with a very low gradient as evidenced by the direction in which the rivers flow. However, the rivers move eastward direction along the natural levee before they finally meet the Ganga. As a result, there are vast waterlogged areas in the districts of Saran, Vaishali and Samastipur. Due to near flatness of the landscape, vast area gets flooded during rains. The north – eastern portion of this zone, the “Don hills valleys” is glacial hills and valleys. 

Except for the northern portion and portion in the west of the zone under the influence of Adhwara system of rivers, the entire zone is under the influence of rivers like Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Ghaghra, all of which originate in the lime rich foothills of the Himalayas. Thus, the soil under the influence of Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Ghaghra are mostly calcareous having different amounts of lime in them. The soils of Siwan and Gopalganj districts with less rainfall and more pronounced dry seasons have developed salinity as well as alkalinity. Similarly, the soil of nearly flat lands of East and West Champaran, Muzaffarpur and also salt affected. The soils of the northern part not under the influence of the above rivers are neutral, acidic or saline depending on the micro – relief and local physiography.

This zone has the following six broad soil association groups:

i.              Sub – Himalayan and forest soils

ii.             Recent alluvial tarai soils

iii.            Young alluvial calcareous soils

iv.            Young alluvial calcareous saline soils

v.             Young alluvial non – calcareous, non saline soils, and

vi.            Recent alluvial calcareous soils

As all the rivers and rivulets originate in the high Himalayas, dominated by mechanical weathering of rocks, the soils are mostly light to medium light textured except those away from the direct influence of the rivers. The upland soils are well drained to moderately well drained. The medium low lands and the low lands soils, although of good to moderate permeability, have become some what poorly drained due to high water table in the areas. The soils are moderately rich to poor in nitrogen (especially in Gopalganj and Siwan districts), moderate to very low in available phosphorus and medium to high in available potash. The soils are showing symptoms of deficiency of zinc and iron mostly induced by high available calcium.

(b)       Agro- Climatic Zone II:  This zone, the alluvial plains of Kosi, Mahananda and its tributes and Ganga (a narrow strip in the south) is slightly undulating to rolling landscape mixed with long stretches of nearly flat landscape with pockets of areas having sub – normal relief. The area is full of streams with abandoned dead channels of Kosi river, which becomes notorious for its frequent and sudden change of courses forming small lakes and shallow marshes. In the south, in between the natural levees of Ganga, on the one hand and Kosi and Mahananda on the other, there are vas areas which remain waterlogged for a considerable part of the year.

The general slope of the land is towards south east and the rivers on reaching Ganga moves eastward for a long distance before they meet river Ganga.

Unlike the rivers Gandak and Ghaghra, Kosi and Mahananda originate and have catchments in Himalayan region, which are not calcareous but rich in acidic minerals. As a result, the soils of this zone are non calcareous, accumulation of sodium salts and sodium adsorption has taken place in areas where the drainage is poor. Salinity and alkalinity are, however, on an increase in Saharsa and western part of Purnea and Katihar districts. As both Kosi and Mahananda carry a tremendous load of sediments, the soil are mostly light textured except in backwaters of river Ganga and Kosi.

Three broad soil association groups have been identified in this zone are:

1.    Recent alluvial tarai soil

2.    Recent alluvial non calcareous soil, and

3.    Recent alluvial calcareous soil.

The soils are very light to medium textured except for those in between the natural levees of Ganga and Kosi and Mahananda and away from the influence of running water of the rivers. Even the heavy textured soils under the influence of Kosi and Mahananda have sandy substratum below 40 to 100 cm depths. The soils are mostly moderately acidic to neutral. Very acidic soils are found in northeast parts with heavy rainfall and high permeability. The soils are excessively drained to poorly drained mainly depending on local physiography and depth of water table. With the introduction of irrigation without providing adequate drainage ways, the water table is rising and water logged areas and saline patches are increasing. The soils are very poor to poor in nitrogen especially with the very light textured soils, very poor to medium in available phosphorus and potash. Deficiencies of zinc and boron and toxicity of manganese have been recognized in these areas.

(c)      Agro-Climatic Zone III: This zone is the alluvial plains of river Ganga on its southern side and the sediments are received both from river Ganga and those flowing from the south having their origins in the Chhotanagpur Plateau, which rise abruptly from the plains.

The land’s slope is towards north east with gentle slope gradient and moderate to low gradient. In the south of the natural levee of the Ganga, there is vast stretch of backwaters known as “Tal” lands extending from Buxar to Pirpaity, where most of the rivers and rivulets coming from the south get lost. The flood plains of Ganga, which get reworked and get eroded and deposited at regular intervals, are lighter than “Tal” lands and are known locally as Diara lands.

The river originating from the Chotanagpur plateau brings a lot of fine sediments. The coarser sediments that they bring are either deposited in their beds or on their banks and as a consequence, the soils are mostly medium to heavy textured throughout the depth of the profiled. There are no marshy lands in this zone.

The main broad soil association groups recognized in this zone are :

1.    Recent alluvial calcareous soils

2.    Tal land soils, light grey, dark grey medium to heavy textured soils

3.    Old alluvial reddish yellow, yellowish grey centenary soils.

4.    Old alluvial grey, grayish yellow, heavy texture soils with cracking nature,

5.    Recent alluvial yellowish to reddish yellow non calcareous non saline soils.

6.    Old alluvial yellowish to red yellow soils of foot hills, and

7.    Old alluvial saline and saline alkali soils.

The soils of this zone except that of ‘Diara’ area and ‘Tal’ lands are moderately well drained to somewhat poorly drained, moderately acidic to slightly alkaline and medium textured to heavy textured soils. The soils of paddy lands have developed impervious layer of varying thickness and imperviousness varies from simple semi developed somewhat porous clay pans to practically very hard impervious thick layers with slickenside. The   soils are poor to moderate in nitrogen and poor to moderately rich in available phosphorus and potash. The soils of medium low to low lands are comparatively more fertile.

The soils of ‘Tal’ lands are highly clayey throughout their depths, grey to dark grey in colour, neutral to slightly alkaline in reaction. These soils are moderately rich in nitrogen, available P and K and very hard under normal conditions.

The Diara land soils with their undulating landscapes are generally very light to medium heavy textured but all underlain by sandy layers within 80 to 100 cm of their surface and very well drained to moderately well drained, neutral to slightly alkaline in reaction. Their fertility status varies widely from poor to very fertile depending upon their physiographic positions but all are under moisture stress due to the occurrence of sandy substratum.

Land Utilization Pattern

Out of total geographical area, 57.12 lakh hectare is under cultivation which is around 60 per cent of the total. The detail land use classification of the state is depicted in table 3. 23.58 lakh hectare area is put to cultivation more than once in a year. Therefore the Gross cropped area is 78.82 lakh hectares. The cropping intensity is 138 percent (table 4).  

Table 3: Land Use Classification      

Sl. No.

Category

Area in Lakh hect.

i.

Forest

6.21

ii.

Barren & non-cultivatable land

4.36

iii.

Land put to non-agriculture uses

16.44

iv.

Culturable Waste land

0.45

v.

Permanent pasture

0.18

vi.

Area under misc. Crops

2.38

vii.

Other fallow (2 to 5 years)      

1.30

viii.

Current fallow

5.13

ix.

Net area sown

57.12

Table 4: Cropping Intensity (138%)

Sl. No.

Category

Area in Lakh hect.

i.

Gross cropped area    

78.82

ii.

Area sown more than once

21.70

Distribution of Operational Holdings

There are around 1.47 crore landholdings in the State of which around 91.06 percent are marginal holdings of size less than 1 hectare (Table 5). With around 90 percent of the total population living in rural areas, agriculture as the primary feeder of rural economy continues to operate not only on margins of land but also on the margins of human enterprise. Without increasing returns to these margins, not much can be done realistically to develop the agricultural sector. Thus, agriculture continues to define both the potentialities and constraints to development in Bihar.

Table 5: Distribution of Holdings by Size Class

Category of farmers

No. of Holdings

Operational holding (In Ha.)

Marginal (0-1Ha.)

1,47,44,098 (91.06%)

36,68,727.64 (57.43%)

Small (1-2 Ha.)

9,48,016 (5.85%)

11,85,695.24 (18.56%)

Semi medium (2-4 Ha.)

4,14,664 (2.56%)

10,72,969.00 (16.80%)

Medium (4-10 Ha.)

81,484 (0.50%)

4,14,941.12 (6.50%)

Large (10-above Ha.)

3129 (0.03%)

45,227.71 (0.71%)

Total

1,61,91,391 (100%)

63,87,560.71 (100%)

Source   :    Agricultural Census (2010-11), Ministry of Agriculture, New Delhi

Source wise Net Irrigated Area (Lakh Acre)

         Canal-23.77

         Ponds-4.00

         Tube wells-55.35

         Wells-0.3

         Others-3.125

Irrigated area to net cultivated area- 61.12%

Crop wise Gross Irrigated Area (Lakh Acre)

         Bhadai-5.175

         Aghani-45.45

         Rabi-57.275

         Zaid-8.25

Agriculture & Allied Sector

Agriculture Cropping Pattern

Cropping pattern in dominated by cereals. Rice-wheat cropping system occupies more than 70% of the gross cropped area. Pulses occupy around 7 percent of the gross cropped area. The important cropping sequence of different zones is:

Zone – I Rice – Wheat, Rice – Rai, Rice – Sweet Potato, Rice – Maize (Rabi), Maize – Wheat, Maize – Sweet Potato, Maize – Rai, Rice – Lentil, Rice-linseed
Zone – II Jute – Wheat, Jute – Potato, Jute – Kalai, Jute – Mustard, Rice – Wheat – Moong, Rice – Toria
Zone – III Rice – Wheat, Rice – Gram, Rice – Lentil, Rice – Rai

Horticulture

Bihar has the opportunity to have varied types of agro climatic conditions, congenial for growing almost all the horticultural crops.

Horticulture is growing popularity owing to the high value of horticulture produces than agriculture crops. However, there needs to be a grater impetus in boosting the irrigation resources of the state and in promoting horticulture in intensive mode in the state. According to the old and existing data, a brief analysis is made on the status of Horticulture in the state which is furnished below:

Fruit Crops 

The major fruit crops grown in Bihar are Mango, Guava, Litchi, Banana, etc. apart from these major crops minor crops like. Makhana, Pineapple, Betelvine are also grown.

The area of fruit crops in Bihar during 2005-06 was 291.61 thousand hectares which was increased to 331.52 thousand hectares in 2014-15. Similarly the production was also increased from 3068.4 25 thousand metric tonnes in 2005-06 to 4120.88 thousand metric tonnes in 2014-15, the productivity of fruit crops has also increased significantly in 2008-09 (12.45) as compared to 2005-06 (11.2).

Almost all the districts of North Bihar particularly Muzaffarpur, East Champaran and Samastipur have good potentiality in respect of litchi cultivation. Similarly Makhana, a pioneer fruit of Bihar is also grown intensively in the districts of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa, Katihar, Araria and Purnea.

Vegetables

Almost all vegetable crops like solanaceous, cucurbits, beans, cole crops, okra, onion and other root crops are widely grown successfully in the state. The total area of vegetable crops was recorded 498.529 thousand hectare with the production of 7654.435 thousand metric tonnes (2005-06) which increased to 912. 21 thousand hectare with the production of 15968.25 thousand metric tonnes (2014-15).

Spices

Chilli, Turmeric, Coriander, Ginger, Garlic & Methi are the major spices grown in Bihar.

Flowers

The major commercial flowers like Marigold, Rose, Tuberose, Gladiolus and Jasmine are cultivated in Bihar.

Aromatic Plants

The aromatic plants like Japanese Mint, Lemongrass, Pamaroja, J. citronella have been promoted by Horticulture Mission for commercial cultivation among farmers.

 

Soil Conservation

The challenge is to improve rural livelihoods through participatory watershed development with focus on integrated farming systems for enhancing income, quality of life, productivity and livelihood security in a sustainable manner. People’s participation will be enhanced. Active participation of weaker sections, SC, ST, and women’s in the development processes and all decision making in community activities is ensured to promote awareness, transparency in the Panchayati Raj System. To achieve the said objectives a State Perspective and Strategic Plan (SPSP) has been prepared and presented in the steering committee of the Department of the Land Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India which compromises 28.00 lakh ha area to be treated upto 14th five year plan including all 38 districts of the State. In first phase, area of 1.92 lakh ha of eight sub plateau districts namely Banka, Jamui, Munger, Gaya, Nawada, Rohtas, Aurangabad & Kaimur has been taken up under Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of DoLR, GoI.  Further, the programme has been extended in six Districts- Arwal, Jahanabad, Patna, Nalanda, shekhpura & Lakhisarai in 2014-15. To implement these PMKSY- Watershed Development Projects successfully the common guidelines for watershed Development Projects 2008 (revised edition 2011) and the directions issued time to time by DoLR, GoI will be followed.

Directorate of Soil Conservation implements and monitors all the activities of PMKSY – Watershed Development (PMKSY - WD) on participatory approach. Emphasis is given on capacity building of watershed community in order to increase sustainability of interventions done in watershed project area.

Agriculture Education, Research & Extension

Education of Agriculture science as a subject has been started at Intermediate level in the State. At present, 365 students are enrolled in I.Sc. (Agri) in the Sarvodaya +2 Schools of the 11 districts viz., Patna, Purnea, Supual, Munger, Jamui, Katihar, Darbhanga, Vaishali, West Champaran and Muzzaffarpur. The books for the 11th class has been published by Bihar State text Book Publishing Corporation Limited, while the writing of study material for 12th class is under process. The study material of the 11th class may be downloaded from the website of Bihar State text Book Publishing Corporation Limited (http://bstbpc.gov.in).

The planned efforts being made by the state through well articulated Agricultural Road Map since 2007, it was decided that there must be another agricultural university for imparting education, conduction researches on farmer's problems and transfer of technology. After Rajendra Agricultural University (RAU) which had been established in 1970, the second agricultural university of the state Bihar Agricultural University was born on the 5th August 2010 with the headquarter of this university located at Sabour which has been known for having one of the oldest agricultural college  i.e. Bihar Agricultural College, established way back in 1908 along with other five colleges during British period. The colleges affiliated with the Agricultural University are:

Rajendra Agriculture University

Bihar Agriculture University

Tirhut College of Agriculture, Dholi, Muzaffarpur

Bihar Agriculture College, Sabour, Bhagalpur

College of Fisheries, Dholi, Muzaffarpur

Bihar Veterinary College, Patna

College of Agricultural Engineering, Pusa, Samastipur

Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Dairy Technology, Patna

College of Home Science, Pusa, Samastipur

College of Horticulture, Noorsarai, Nalanda

College of Basic Sciences & Humanities, Pusa, Samastipur

Mandan Bharti Agriculture College, Agwanpur, Saharsa

 

Veer Kunwar Singh Agriculture College, Dumraon, Buxar

 

Bhola Paswan Shastri Agriculture College, Purnea

 

Dr. Kalam Agriculture College, Kisanganj

Department of Agriculture through its Directorates and with the technical guidance of the Agricultural Universities has act as delivering vehicle to reach the benefits of technological advancements as well as research findings to the last person down the line involved in farm activities.

The capacity building of farmers/extension functionaries/rural youth is one of the important activities performed by ATMA & KVK. In changing scenario our agriculture is being more knowledge intensive. For adopting improved agriculture farming, farmers need updated knowledge and specific skills for performing the present agriculture.