Agro-climatic Zones

An agro-climatic zone is a land unit uniform in respect of climate and length of growing period (LGP) which is climatically suitable for a certain range of crops and cultivars (Source: FAO 1983). The climatic conditions like rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind velocity and duration of sunshine etc. of a region affect the agricultural cropping pattern thus, produce different crops. Annual rainfall and its distribution over the entire year, and the regimes of diurnal and annual temperatures are the prominent factors affecting agriculture and the life style of the people. Planning Commission of India (1989) made an attempt to delineate the country into different agro climatic regions based on homogeneity in rainfall, temperature, topography, cropping and farming systems and water resources. On the basis of climatic conditions and agricultural produce, Ganga basin has been divided into ten agro-climatic zones, each one having special characteristics of its own as shown here. The main characteristics of the agro-climatic zones of the Ganga basin are describes below:

  • Central Plateau and Hills region: The maximum part (31% of total basin area) of the Ganga basin is covered by this region. The part of region in Ganga basin comprises of 30 districts of Madhya Pradesh, 15 districts of Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh. The topography is highly variable nearly 1/3rd of the land is not available for cultivation and Irrigation and cropping intensity are comparatively low where 75% of the area is rainfed grown with low value cereal crops. A Large volume of land and water resources exists in this region with very low productivity with predominance of subsistence agriculture and excessive runoff. The potential of horticulture and livestock are under-utilized. The region mainly has coarse cereals based cropping systems with poultry farming as primary means of livelihood. 

  • The Upper Gangetic Plains region: This region covers about 17% of total basin area comprises of 32 districts of Uttar Pradesh and parts of Uttarakhand. In this region the irrigation is mainly through canals and tube wells. The region is rich soil and water resources with medium productivity level due to salinity / alkalinity and a good potential for exploitation of ground water. The unscientific irrigation practices, poor drainage and weak input supply structure and population pressure developed land deteriorating environment with respect to land quality. The region has both rice and wheat based cropping system with Poultry farming and buffalo and cattle rearing.

  • The Middle Gangetic Plains region: This region covers about 17% of total basin area and comprises of 23 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and 37 districts of Bihar. This region has a geographical area of 16 million hectares and high rainfall. In this region about 39% of gross cropped area is irrigated and the cropping intensity is 142%. The region is rich soil and water resources but has low productivity level due to mono-cropping of rice on large area and has seen deteriorating land quality in due course of time. The region mainly has rice based cropping system with poultry, fishery and dairy as primary means of livelihood.

  • The Eastern Plateau and Hills region: This region covers about 13% of the total basin area and comprises of eastern part of Madhya Pradesh, southern part of West Bengal the parts of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh falling in the basin. A large volume of land and water resources exists in this region with very low productivity and large runoff of rain water eroding soil fertility of the area. The soils are shallow and medium in depth and the topography is undulating with a slope of 1-10%. The region has low development of irrigation and the mode is through tanks and tube wells. The region mainly has rice & coarse cereals based cropping systems with Poultry and Piggery farming. The Cattle, buffalo and goat are reared as primary means of livelihood in this region.  

  • The Lower Gangetic Plains region: This region holds about 8% of the total basin area and completely contained in the 15 districts of West Bengal. The soils are mostly alluvial and are prone to floods. The region is rich in water and soil resources and has low productivity level and high population pressure beyond carrying capacity. The region mainly has rice based cropping system with Hilsa fish culture and buffalo, black Bengal goat and Garol sheep are reared.

  • The Western Plateau and Hills region: This region is about 6% of the total basin area and comprises the parts of Madhya Pradesh and one district of Rajasthan. The irrigation potential of the region is under developed and the irrigated area is only 12.4% of the zone with canals being the main source. The soil has high clay content with low drainability with large runoff and soil erosion. The region mainly has coarse cereals based cropping systems with Poultry farming and goat rearing.

  • The Western Himalayan region: This region is about 6% of the total basin area and consists of two out of the three distinct sub-regions i.e. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand hilly area. The region consists of skeletal soils of cold region, podsolic mountain meadow soils and hilly brown soils. Lands of the region have steep slopes in undulating terrain. Soils are generally silty loams and these are prone to erosion hazards. The region has low land productivity compared to the other parts of the basin. The region mainly has wheat based cropping system with temperate horticulture and sheep, yak, quail, turkey, horse and mules as potential livestock rearing.

  • The Trans-Gangetic Plains region: This region holds only 2% of the total basin area and consists of parts of Haryana and Delhi. The region is rich water & soil resources and has comparatively high land productivity level with delicate water balance  in the region as exploitation of ground water has already surpassed hundred per cent of utilizable balance. The region has both rice and wheat based cropping system with Poultry farming and buffalo and cattle are reared.

  • The Eastern Himalayan region: A little part the basin fall in this basin mainly the Coochibihar districts of West Bengal. The region receives high rainfall and has high forest cover. Shifting cultivation is practiced in nearly one-third of the cultivated area and this has caused denudation and degradation of soils with the resultant heavy runoff, massive soil erosion and floods in lower reaches.

  • The Western Dry region: A very little part of the basin falls in this region mainly the parts of the Sikar and Nagaur districts of Rajasthan and is characterized by arid conditions with hot climate, erratic rainfall, high evaporation, scanty vegetation and fragile eco-system. The ground water is deep and often brackish. Famine and drought are common features of the region. The region mainly has coarse cereals based cropping systems with Poultry farming and cattle, goat, sheep, camel are reared as primary means of livelihood.  

Overall the geography of the Ganga is apt for harvesting a wide variety of crops. The Ganga and its tributaries provide a constant source of irrigation to an extensive area. In general the major crops cultivated in that area include rice, lentils, sugarcane, potatoes, oil seeds and wheat. Along the banks of the river, the existence of swamps and lakes provide a rich fertile area for crops like legumes, chilies, sesame, mustard, sugarcane, and jute. There are also many fishing zones along the river, though all of them are highly polluted. (Source: India-WRIS)