Agriculture is counted as the chief economic occupation of all the 27 Districts of Chhattisgarh. Horticulture and animal husbandry also engage a major share of the total population of the state. About 77% of the population of the state is rural and the main livelihood of the villagers is agriculture and agriculture-based small industry. As per an estimate, net sown area of the state is 4.828 million hectares and the gross sown area is 5.788 million hectares.
The traditional methods of cultivation are still in practice, though with many programs for the benefit of the farmers launched by the national and the state governments, the farmers are getting aware about new techniques of farming, modern technologies suitable to their holdings and also about the potential of a wide range of crops unlike a few years ago when the focus used to be on paddy only.
Traditionally the main crops of Chhattisgarh are rice, maize, pulses (tuar and kulthi); oilseeds like groundnuts (peanuts), soybeans and sunflowers, etc. Farming of rice has been so much in prominence here that the state has been given the name "rice bowl of India". With over 20,000 variety of rice produced in Chhattisgarh, rice cultivation in the state occupies an average area of 3.6 million hectares and the productivity ranges between 1.2 to 1.6 ton/hectare depending upon the rainfall. This makes Chhattisgarh one of the major exporters of the rice in India. Presently the farmers of Chhattisgarh are also growing strawberry, guava, cotton, a variety of vegetables apart from the traditionally grown crops. Suggested interventions for natural resource management for agriculture in the state are as follows:
Introduction of rice-vegetable system (brinjal, tomato, okra, onion, cucurbits) in place of rice-wheat on 1 lakh hectare of irrigated lands to enhance productivity by 2 lakh tons
Rice area under wide bunds (2.5 lakh ha) can be brought under pigeon pea having 1.5 tons/ha productivity, which would add to the pulse production of the state by 3.75 lakh tons
Shifting 5.5 lakh ha rice-lathyrus to rice-chickpea/lentil on rain fed lands to increase pulse production by 5 lakh tons. Where lathyrus is to be had, low beta n-oxalyl amino alanine (BOAA) containing varieties like Ratan and Prateek need to be grown vc
Lentil has a great promise as a pulse crop in the state. It may serve as a good alternative to lathyrus under utera cultivation. At present, the lentil occupies 22,200 ha with production of 16,300 ton and productivity of 734 kg/ha with positive growth rates.
Lathyrus is an important pulse crop in the state that occupies 4.28 lakh ha with annual production of 1.58 lakh tons. In the last five years, both area and production showed positive growth rates (area from 2.51 lakh ha in 2000-01 to 4.28 lakh ha in 2004-05, production from 1.09 lakh tons to 1.58 lakh tons).
The implementation of National Food Security Mission and National Horticulture Mission has also emerged as a path of intervention which helps in agriculture diversification towards cash crops in the state. The area and production of vegetable and fruits, spices, medicinal and aromatic plants have been increased in the state due to effective implementation of NHM. Organic farming is also on a rise in the state. 5 districts and units of 22 districts are being developed as organic farming hubs.
Chhattisgarh agriculture is gaining a new momentum with each passing day. The state has received a coveted national award 'Krishi Karman Award' for four times in the past few years. The state Agriculture Minister Brijmohan Agrawal has spearheaded this Union government’s initiative of providing soil health cards to farmers so well that Chhattisgarh has topped the list among all the states in the country for having issued over 43 lakh soil health cards (SHCs) to farmers in the past two years. Apart from these programs, Chhattisgarh has performed very well in implementing programs like PM crop insurance scheme. In the current year that is 2017-18 itself, nearly 15 lac farmers have been covered with crop insurance plan while 5.65 lac farmers out of these were paid nearly Rupees 1300 crore as claim for their insurance plans.