Cash Crops of India

Cash Crops of India

This article deals with ‘Cash Crops of India ’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • The crops which are cultivated for commercial purposes are called cash crops.
  • These crops include sugarcane, tobacco, fibre crops (cotton and jute), tea, coffee and oilseeds.


  • Sugarcane is India’s most important cash crop, and India is the second largest producer of sugarcane globally.
  • This crop provides the raw material for the sugar industry.
  • Besides providing sugar, gur and khandsari, it supplies molasses for the alcohol industry and bagasse for the paper industry.

Conditions required for growing Sugarcane 

Temperature High temperature between 21 to 27°C  
Annual Rainfall Humid climate with rainfall between 75 to 150 cm  
Specific conditions In the latter half, the temperature around 20 °C and the open sky help in acquiring juice and thickening.
While too heavy rainfall results in low sugar content, deficiency in rainfall produces a fibrous crop
A short cool, dry winter during ripening and harvesting are ideal. 
Frost is detrimental to sugarcane, and it must be harvested before frost season.   
Soil Deep rich loamy soil is ideal.
Soil that can retain moisture.
Soil should be rich in nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous.
Sugarcane exhausts soil fertility quickly and extensively, and its cultivation requires heavy doses of manures and fertilizers.  
Labour required It is a labour-intensive crop.
Cheap and abundant labour is a prerequisite.

Producer States

At the state level, Uttar Pradesh is the leading producer of sugarcane, followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and parts of MP and Bihar.

Cash Crops of India

Traditionally sugarcane areas were northern plains, especially UP. But its cultivation has gradually shifted towards the south.  The reason for this is the fact that North Indian sugarcane is :

  • Subtropical variety 
  • Low sugar content 
  • Sugar factories are shut in winter as sugarcane is grown only in summer.  

Hence, when irrigation developed in the southern states, the sugarcane industry developed there as well.

2. Cotton

  • Cotton is the most important cash crop in India. 
  • It provides raw materials to India’s most significant industry, i.e. Textile Industry. 
  • Besides the cotton fibre, its seed acts as raw material in the Vanaspati industry. Additionally, cotton seed can be used as fodder for milch cattle.
  • India ranks second next to China in the production of cotton.

Conditions required for growing Cotton 

Cotton is a tropical and subtropical crop requiring uniformly high temperatures. Conditions for its growth are 

Temperature Uniformly high temperatures between 21 to 30° C
Its growth is retarded when the temperature falls below 20°C.
Frost is its enemy, and it is grown in areas having at least 210 frost-free days.
Annual Rainfall Modest requirements varying between 50 to 100 cm
However, it is successfully grown in areas with lesser rainfall with irrigation’s help.
Moist and heavy rainfall during boll opening and picking is detrimental as plants become vulnerable to pests and diseases. 
Soil Best suited soil is the Black soil of the Deccan and Malwa plateaus.
It can also grow in the alluvial soils of the Northern Plains and Laterite soils of Peninsular India.
Cotton quickly exhausts the fertility of the soil. Hence, regular application of manure and fertilizer is necessary.
Labour required Cotton picking is not yet mechanized and requires cheap and efficient labour.

Varieties of Cotton

There are three main varieties of cotton grown in India. 

1. Long Staple Cotton

  • It has the longest fibre, with lengths varying from 24 to 27 mm.
  • The fibre is long, fine and shining and is used for making fine and superior-quality cloth.
  • 50% of the total cotton produced in India is of this variety.
  • It is grown in Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, MP, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

2. Medium Staple Cotton

  • The length of its fibre is between 20 to 24 mm.
  • 44% of the total cotton produced in India is of this variety.
  • It is grown in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, UP, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

3. Short Staple Cotton

  • It is an inferior variety whose length is less than 20 mm. 
  • About 6% of the cotton grown in India is of this type.

Producer States

Leading producer states include Gujarat (35%), Maharashtra (21%), Andhra (14%), Haryana (8%), Punjab (7%), MP (6%), Rajasthan (4%) and Karnataka (3%).

Cotton Growing Areas in India

3. Jute

  • Jute, also known as ‘Golden Fibre’, is an important cash crop.
  • It provides the raw material for the Jute industry. It is used to manufacture gunny bags, carpets, hessian, ropes and strings, rugs, clothes, tarpaulins, upholstery etc. 
  • It has high tensile strength and low extensibility and ensures better breathability of fabrics.
  • It is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly. 

Conditions required for growing Jute 

It is a tropical fibre crop and requires the following conditions

Temperature High temperature varying between 24 to 35°C 
Annual Rainfall Heavy rainfall of 120 to 150 cm with 80 to 90% relative humidity
A large quantity of water is required to grow the jute crop and process the fibre after the crop is harvested. 
Soil Light sandy and clayey loams.
Jute rapidly exhausts the fertility of the soil, and the soil must be replenished annually by the silt-laden flood water of the rivers. 
Labour required A large supply of cheap labour is required to grow and process jute fibre.

Producer States

  • India suffered a great setback during the partition of India in 1947 because 75% of the jute growing areas went to Bangladesh while the jute mills remained in India. The government has made great efforts to increase the production and area under jute in India.
  • The main producer states in India include West Bengal (80% production), Bihar, Assam and Odisha.
Jute Growing Areas in India

4. Oil Seeds

  • Oilseeds are a very important group of the commercial crop in India, and oil extracted from oilseeds is an important item of our diet and used as raw material for many items like paints, varnishes, hydrogenated oil, soap, perfumery, lubricants etc.
  • Oil cake, the residue after oil is extracted from the oilseed, is used as cattle feed and manure. 
  • India is the largest producer of oilseeds in the world. But production of oilseed has always fallen short of our demand, and there has always been a need to import oilseeds. 
  • Nine major oilseeds grown in India are groundnut, sesamum, rapeseed and mustard, linseed, safflower, castor seed, sunflower and soybean. 


  • It is the most important oilseed in India.
  • India is the second largest producer.
  • It constitutes 50% of the oilseed production of India.
  • It contains 40-50% oil.
  • Use: Mainly as edible oil. It can also be eaten in raw form. Its oil cake is used as cattle feed.
  • It synthesizes atmospheric nitrogen and increases the fertility of the soil.
  • It requires 20-30°C temperature, 50-75 cm rainfall and well-drained light sandy loan, red, yellow and black cotton soil.
  • It is mainly grown in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Sesamum (Til)

  • India has the world’s largest area under sesamum.
  • It contains 45-50% oil.
  • Use: Mainly as edible oil. Sesamum seeds can also be eaten in a fried form mixed with sugar or gur. Its oil cake is used as cattle feed.
  • It grows well in areas having 21-23°C temperature, 45-50 cm rainfall and well-drained light loamy soils. 
  • Sesamum is grown in all parts of the country, but West Bengal is the largest producer producing 33% of the produce. Other significant producers are Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 

Mustard and Rapeseed

  • It is the most important oilseed next to groundnut.
  • It contains 25-45% oil.
  • Use: Mainly used as edible oil. Its oil is also used for pickles, lubricants and toiletries. Its oil cake is used as cattle feed.
  • Like wheat and gram, they thrive only in the cool climate of the Satluj-Ganga plain.
  • Its major producers include Rajasthan (46%), Haryana, MP, YP, West Bengal, Gujarat, Punjab etc. 

5. Tobacco

  • Tobacco was brought to India by the Portuguese in 1508. since then, its cultivation has spread to different parts of the country. At present, India is the major producer of tobacco in the world.
  • Apart from oral consumption, tobacco is mainly used for cigarettes, bidi, cigars and hookah. It is also used in the production of insecticides. 
  • There are two varieties of tobacco. These include 
    1. Nicotiana Tabacum: High-quality tobacco used in cigarettes, cigar bidi, chewing, hookah and pipe. 90% of tobacco grown in India is of this variety. 
    2. Nicotiana Rustica: Inferior and short quality used in hookah, chewing and snuff. 10% of tobacco grown in India is of this variety.

Conditions required for growing Tobacco 

Conditions for the growth of tobacco includes

Temperature Wide range varying from 16 to 35°C.
Annual Rainfall From 50 to 100 cm of rainfall. But the rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year. Irrigation is required if the rainfall is low or erratic.
Specific factors Frost is injurious to its growth.
Soil Well-drained sandy loam, not too rich in organic matter.
Labour required Cheap and abundant labour is required at all stages of cultivation.

Producer States

It is grown in 15 states of India. But 66% of production comes from Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. 

Tobacco growing areas in India

1 thought on “Cash Crops of India”

  1. I absolutely adore roasted sunflower seeds! They are my go-to healthy snack that never fails to satisfy my taste buds. The process of preparing them is a delightful culinary adventure in itself, and the results are simply scrumptious.


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