Rajasthan lies to the north west of India, just above the Tropic of Cancer and located between 23º30´ and 30º 11’ North latitude and 69º 29’ and 78º 17’ East longitude. The state shares its north-western and western boundary with the Indo-Pakistan international border that extends about 1,070 km and touches the major districts Barmer, Bikaner, Ganganagar and Jaisalmer. Rajasthan is bordered on the north and northeast by the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, on the east and southeast by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and on the southwest by the state of Gujarat. The huge portion of the state of Rajasthan is desiccated and houses the biggest Indian desert- the Thar Desert known as the 'Maru-kantar'. The oldest chain of fold mountains- the Aravali Range splits the state into two geographical zones- desert at one side and forest belt on the other. Only 9.36% of the total geographical region lies under forest vegetation. The Mount Abu is the only hill station of the state and houses the Guru Shikhar Peak that is the highest peak of the Aravali range with an elevation of 1,722 m. The state has a total of 222 cities and towns and 41353 villages. For administrative convenience Rajasthan State has been divided into seven administrative divisions namely- Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, Bharatpur and Kota and 33 districts. The population of Rajasthan in 2001 was 56473122 comprising 29381657 males and 27091465 females. It formed 5.5% of India’s population. Population density in the State was 165/km2.
(b) Agro and
Sub Agro-Climatic Zones:
(i) Arid Western Plain -
This region comprises of all tehsils of Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer districts, Phalodi, Shergarh, Osian and Jodhpur tehsils of Jodhpur district and Dungargarh, Sujangarh, Ratangarh and Sardar shahar tehsils of Churu district. This is the most arid part of the state where the annual rainfall varies from 10 to 40 cm, quite often erratic, so much so, that the entire rainfall of the year may fall on a single day and the rest of the year may be dry.
(ii)Irrigated North-Western Plains -The entire Ganganagar district, which is an alluvial and aeolian plain, formed by the river Ghaggar. A part of this region, which is arid, is the northern extension of the Indian Thar Desert covered with wind-blown sand. Extreme aridity, marked with high summer and low winter temperatures, is its usual climatic characteristic. The average annual rainfall is about, 40 cm.
(iii)Transitional Plain of Inland Drainage-
This zone comprises all tehsils of Nagaur, Sikar and Jhunjhunun districts and Taranagar, Churu and Rajgarh tehsils of Churu district. The areas is covered with sand dunes and inter-dunal sandy plains. Drainage is not well developed and streams, which flow in the rainy season, disappear in sandy fields after covering some distance. Climatically, this zone is slightly better as compared to the adjoining zone of the Arid Western Plain.
(iv)Transitional Plain of Luni Basin- This area lies between the Aravalli ranges and western arid region. The region encompasses the entire districts of Jalor and Pali, Reodhar and Sheoganj tehsils of Sirohi district, and Bilara and Bhopaigarh tehsils of Jodhpur district. The region has semi-arid climate with an annual rainfall of 30 to 50 cms. It is drained by the river Luni which is seasonal and flows only during rainy season.
(v) Semi-arid Eastern Plain -This region comprises four districts namely, Jaipur, Dausa, Tonk and Ajmer. Banas, with its several tributaries, forms a rich fertile plain. On the western side, the region is flanked by the low Aravalli hills which extend from the south-West to the north- east. The annual rainfall of the region varies from 50 to 60 cm.
(vi) Flood Prone Eastern Plains-This region comprises the districts of Alwar, Bharatpur and Dhaulpur and the northern part of Sawai Madhopur (Mahuwa, Todabhim, Hindon, Nadauti, Bamanwas, Gangapur, Karauli, Sapotra and Bonli tehsils). Except for few low hills which exist in Alwar and Sawai Madhopur districts, the entire region is a flood plain of the Banganga and the river Ghambhiri. The region has rich alluvial soils the fertility of which is replenished every year by the flood water of the rivers. Climatically, the area is similar to the plains of Banas, but the rainfall is relatively higher in the east, the annual average being about 75 cm.
(vii) Sub-humid Southern Plains & The Aravalli Hills -Bhilwara district, all tehsils of Udaipur district, except Dharyiawad, Salumber and Sarada, all tehsils of Chittaurgarh district, except Chotti Sadri, Pratapgath, Arnod and Bari Sadri and Abu Road and Pindwara tebsils of Sirohi district form this agro-climatic zone. For the most part, this is a region of low Aravalli hills with the inter-mountain plateau, deeply dissected by streams and rivers. The region has a moderately warm climate in summers and with mild winters. The annual rainfall varies from 50 to 95 cm.
(viii) Humid Southern Plains -The districts of Dungarpur and Banswara, parts of Udaipur (Dhariyawad, Salumber and Sarada tehsils) and Chittorgarh (Chotti sadri, Bari Sadri, Pratapgarh and Arnod tehsils) are included in this region. The area comprises of low Aravalli hills with intrusions of black lava rocks. This is mostly a tribal area where Bhils, Garasiyas and Damors live amidst forests and hills. The area has humid climate with an average rainfall of more than 70 cm per year.
(ix) Humid South-Eastern Plains- Popularly known as the Hadauti plateau, this region includes the districts of Kota, Baran, Bundi and Jhalawar and two tehsils of Sawai Madhopur namely Khandar and Sawai Madhopur. The black soil region of this plateau is fertile and is used for cultivation of sugarcane, cotton and opium. The region has low hills of the Gwalior series, interspersed with broad plateaus of Vindhyan rocks. A large number of rivers drain this area. The Chambal is the main river along with its main tributaries like Parvati, Kali sindh, Parwan and Banas.
The climate of Rajasthan is generally hot and dry. However, the climate of Rajasthan can be divided into four seasons, namely summers, winters, monsoon and post-monsoon. The hottest season of Rajasthan, summer, extends from April to June. The temperature in this season ranges from 32° C to 45° C. However, the nights in Rajasthan are pretty cool, with the night temperature falling considerably. Extending from December to March is the winter season. The coldest month of the season is January. The temperature ranges from 10° C to 27° C. During the period of July to September, lies the monsoon. The temperature ranges from 35° C to 40° C. The state receives approximately 90% of its annual rainfall in this season only. It is the most humid season in Rajasthan. From October to November is the post monsoon season. The average maximum temperature ranges between 33° C to 38° C, and the minimum is between 18° C and 20° C.
The total geographical area of Rajasthan is 34.2 million hectare and the area under forest is 2.651 million hectare. The cultivable area is 25.633 million hectare (74.9%of total geographical area) and the net sown area is 17.096 million hectare (66.7% of cultivable area). The gross cropped area is 21.664 million hectare and the area sown more than once is 5.11 million hectare with the cropping intensity of 124.5%. The net irrigated area is 5.239 million hectare (By canals- 25.08%, By Tubewells- 72.7% and by others – 2.22%). The gross irrigated area is 8.09 million hectare and the percentage of net irrigated sown area is 30.6%. The total number of land holdings are 58.19 lakhs out of which 18.49 lakh (31.78%) are marginal farmers, 12.10 lakh (20.79%) small farmers and 27.60 lakh (47.43%) farmers hold land above 2 hectare.
Rajasthan has two principal crop seasons i.e.Rabi and Kharif. The Rabi crops are winter crops and are sown in the months of October and November and are harvested in the months of March and April. The principal Rabi crops are Barley, Wheat, Gram, Pulses and Oil Seeds. The major oil seeds are Rapeseed and Mustard. The Kharif crops are the crops that are grown in the summer season and are seeded in the months of June and July. These crops are harvested in the months of September and October and include bajra, pulses, jowar, maize and groundnut. The regions that are highly irrigated or receive abundant water supply are utilized for the cultivation of improved high-yielding varieties of rice. Some places of Rajasthan that has black soil nurture the growth of major cash crops like cotton. In some regions tobacco is also grown.
The farm power availability in the State during the year 2001 was 0.65 kW/ha which is very low. In Rajasthan, unless the risk in crop production is reduced, the scope for development will remain highly restricted. The single most important factor for reducing the risk is soil moisture management. Further expansion of traditional irrigation characterized by low water productivity will not be feasible in the region with its limited surface and ground water resources. Conservation of soil moisture, use of precision irrigation to achieve highest possible water productivity and use of the limited water resource for high value crops are the pre-requisites to open the way for the development of region’s agriculture. Coarse cereal, because of their low water requirement and their ability to withstand drought condition, will continue to dominate crop production in the rainfed areas. Equipment and machinery for planting some of the coarse cereals like pearl millet, their harvesting and threshing need to be introduced. Deep placement of seeds to make use of the receding soil moisture for proper germination is necessary. Techniques and equipment to achieve deep placement without creating excessive resistance to seedling emergence are now available. These techniques should be utilized to achieve good establishment of irrigated crops like cotton. Sufficient power and matching equipment should be available to the farmers of the region for quick land preparation and scientific planting of the various coarse cereals and other non-irrigated kharif crops under rainfed conditions to make best use of soil moisture for crop establishment, before the top layer of soil gets dry. Since mixed cropping will remain a necessity to reduce the risk of crop failure, equipment for planting, interculture and harvesting of mixed crops should be necessary. Equipment for deep tillage to increase moisture intake needs introduction.