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Compare intensive subsistence farming with commercial farming in India

Last Updated : 22 Jan, 2024
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Farming is the activity of growing crops or keeping animals on a farm. The main steps of farming include the preparation of soil, sowing, adding manure and fertilizer, irrigation, harvesting, and storage. Two types of farming are discussed in detail below:

Intensive Subsistence Farming Vs Commerical Farming

Intensive Subsistence Farming Vs Commercial Farming

Intensive subsistence farming 

It is a type of agricultural activity in which the crops are cultivated by the owner as well as consumed by the owner and his family. Subsistence farming is done for one’s own sustainability. In this type of farming, simple input tools are used and a small area of land is cultivated but the amount of labor used here is large. The output is enough for the farmer to survive and exchange among the localities as well. Dry sunlight with proper irrigation and fertile soil permits the growth of the crop, more than one crop can be cultivated annually. This type of agriculture is mostly practised in the highly populated areas of the monsoon regions of south, southwest, and southeast Asia.

Characteristics of Intensive Organic Agriculture in India

The characteristics of Intensive organic agriculture in India are as follows:

Land Ownership: Farmers’ land holdings are generally limited, often fragmented, and small in size.

Labor intensive: Farming activities are largely dependent on family labor and sometimes help from neighboring farmers.

Crop diversity: Farmers grow a variety of crops suited to local agro-climatic conditions, including staple food crops such as rice, wheat, barley, and maize

  • Comparison of Methods and Costs: Agricultural methods, such as hand tillage and organic fertilizers, are commonly used. There is limited mechanization and modern investment in agriculture.
  • Market orientation: Surplus produce in excess of subsistence needs is sold in local markets, but the main focus is on personal consumption.
  • Income: Mainly agricultural income, with little difference in other non-agricultural industries.
  • Government support: Smallholder farmers often receive support from the government by accessing grants, financial assistance, and agricultural extension services.

Commercial farming

It is done on a large scale to produce more output and sell it in the market for public consumption. In commercial farming, large input tools are used on the vast area of land to produce more. Higher inputs of modern farming are used to achieve productivity. Its motive is to maximize profit. It helps in the growth of the country’s economy and development. The practice doesn’t depend on nature as it uses heavy machinery and advanced technologies for the growth of its crops.

Characteristics of Commercial Agriculture in India

The main characteristics of commercial agriculture in India are as follows:

  • Land use: Commercial agriculture is characterized by large land uses, resulting in higher economies of scale and more efficient use of resources.
  • Machinery and Technology: Modern machinery, irrigation systems, fertilizers, pesticides, and seed hybrids are commonly used to improve seed and yield performance
  • Primary crops: Farmers focus on the production of high-value cash crops such as cotton, sugar, tea, coffee, fruits, vegetables, or flowers, depending on market demand and profitability
  • Market management: The main objective is to earn profits by selling agricultural products in local, national, and international markets.
  • Diversification: Commodity farmers may engage in agricultural production, contract farming, or value-added services to increase income and reduce market risks.
  • Access to credit and services: Commercial farmers have better access to credit facilities, agricultural policies, and market information due to large-scale operations
  • Government subsidies: Commercial agriculture receives subsidies from the government through infrastructure development, investments in research and development, and policies that facilitate market access and export opportunities.


Intensive subsistence farming

Commercial farming


Intensive subsistence farming is done for one’s own sustainability.

Commercial farming is practiced for commercial purposes and for public consumption.


A small plot of land is used 

Vast patches of land or large commercial farms are used for cultivation.


More than one crop is cultivated annually.

Only one crop is cultivated annually.


Simple input tools are used and less capital or investments are required.

Heavy machinery and modern technologies with huge amounts of investments are required.


Production is done to meet its own requirements and extra is sold out in the localities.

Production is done for selling and it contributes to National Gross Product.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q 1. What is a plantation?


The plantation is a type of commercial farming where one type of crop is grown in a large area of land.

Q 2. What are the different types of commercial farming?


There are three types of commercial farming, they are:

  • Mixed farming
  • Commercial grain farming
  • Plantation farming

Q 3. What is shifting cultivation?


It is a system of slash-and-burnin in which large patches of land are cultivated and left vacated for a short period of time so as to retain the soil nutrients. It is also known as slash and burn agriculture.

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