Tripura, one of the north-eastern states, is bounded on the north, west, south and southeast by Bangladesh, whereas in the east, it shares a common boundary with Assam and Mizoram. The state has favourable climatic conditions for cultivation of various fruit and horticultural crops. It is rich in natural resources such as natural gas, rubber, tea and medicinal plants.Tripura is endowed with rich and diverse bamboo resources. It is also the second largest natural rubber producer in the country after Kerala and produced 37,277 million tonnes of rubber in FY 15. Tripura accounts for about 6 per cent of bamboo sticks, used for making incense sticks in India. Around 21 of the 130 bamboo species known in India are grown in the state. Tripura holds a strong tea plantation base, with 58 tea gardens covering an area of over 7,000 hectares in 2014-15. Tea produced in Tripura is famous for its blending qualities.
The State of Tripura is mainly hilly and extensively covered with forest during the erstwhile Maharaja’s time and ‘Jhum’ popularly known as Shifting cultivation, was practiced in the hilly-areas as the only form of agriculture. The plough cultivation was probably introduced in Tripura during 15th century A.D. when the plain land cultivators from adjoining districts of Bengal came to this State. The Jhumias coming in contacts with immigrants learnt the benefits of plough cultivation and became interested in owning land for cultivation. This was evident from a step taken by the then Maharaja of this State in 1913 T.E. (1930 A.D.) that he kept 28,490 hectares in Khowai Sub-Division called “Kalyanpur Reserve” for settlement of Jhumias. Subsequently the reserved areas for The Princely State acceded to the Indian union on 15th October, 1949 as a Union territory and attained statehood in the year 1972. Before attaining Statehood the developmental activities of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Fisheries were being looked after by a small setup headed by one Superintendent. A Director of Agriculture was appointed for the first time in 1950. He was assisted by a group of Officers of Agriculture and allied disciplines. In the year 1959, Department of Animal Husbandry was carved out from the Department of Agriculture with its own setup. In the year 1963 the Department saw its first expansion by way of creation of three zone of operation namely Central Zone, North Zone and South Zone with its headquarters at Agartala, Dharmanagar and Udaipur. Subsequently during 1970 these Zonal Offices were re-designated as District Offices co-terminating with the administrative districts. The district offices were headed by a Deputy Director of Agriculture along with supporting technical officers and ministerial staff. With the rising population the demand for better service in the field of agriculture and allied sectors was felt which made way for the extensive expansion of the concerned departments up to the grass-root level. The year 1973 saw the expansion of the Agriculture Department at the Sub Division level supported by Agricultural Sectors, each sector comprises of 10- 15 Gram Panchayets. Ten Agricultural Sub Divisions co-terminus with the Revenue Sub divisions of the state were set up.
The good agro-climatic conditions, deep fertile soils, subtropical humid climate with abundance of rainfall offer tremendous scope for development of Horticulture sector in the state. To tap the immense potential of Horticulture and Plantation crops in the state as well the urgent need for undertaking soil and water conservation activities has resulted in creation of a separate Directorate for Horticulture and Soil conservation in the year 1985 and a State Land Use Board in the year 1988. The expansion in the Horticultural sector was also subsequently taken up with the setting up of Subdivision level Horticulture and Soil conservation offices.
The cropping pattern in Tripura is characterized by two distinct farming systems, i.e. settled cultivation in the plains and shifting cultivation in the hills. Paddy, Pulses and Oilseeds are the major crops grown in the state. Paddy is grown in 55% of gross cropped area in three seasons viz. Aush(preKharif), Aman(Kharif) and Boro(Summer) whereas pulses and oilseeds and other crops altogether cover about 5% area. Fruits and vegetables are covered in 21% of gross cropped area, 10% area is under rubber and 9% under other miscellaneous crops like tea, medicinal plants etc. The major Kharif crops are rice, maize, pigeon pea, black gram, green gram, cowpea, ground nut, sesame, jute, mesta, cotton, and Kharif vegetables. Different crops taken during Rabi season are rice, wheat, pea, green gram, lentil, rapeseed-mustard, potato, and Rabi vegetables. With an objective of arresting degradation of natural resources and for restoration of proper soil health, watershed approach was adopted during 8th five year plan and has been continuing in sustained manner till now. In 11th Five Year Plan, 79 National Watershed Development Projects in Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) and 33 Watershed Development Projects in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA) covering 35,500 hectares and 15,000 hectares respectively have been envisaged for integrated development of the catchment areas.
The state has favourable climatic conditions for cultivating various fruit and horticultural crops including rice, jackfruit, pineapple, potato, sugarcane, chilli and natural rubber. Rice is the major crop of the state and is cultivated in 91 per cent of the cropped area. The state has a wide variety of medical plants having 266 medicinal plants, 379 species of trees, 581 herbs, 320 shrubs and 165 climbers.