|*Agriculture Map of Kerala showing different crops and areas where these are cultivated.|
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Kerala, the state located in the southern tip of India is bordered by Arabian Sea and the extensive network of azure backwaters, rivers and streams, boasts of an agrarian economy. The abundance of water due to the 34 lakes and other small streamlets, innumerable backwaters and waterbodies and 49 rain-fed rivers flowing over the terrain of the state and also the adequate annual rainfall of 118 inches received by this state probably facilitates agriculture to a great extent and hence the economy of the state is dominated by agriculture.
The most essential or the staple crop is the rice or paddy. About 600 varieties of rice are grown in the sprawling paddy fields of Kerala. In fact the Kuttinad region of the district of Kerala is known as the 'rice bowl of the state' and enjoys a significant status in the production of rice. Next to rice is another very important crop which is known as Tapioca and is cultivated mainly in the drier regions. Tapoica is a major food of the Keralites.
Besides production of the main crop, Kerala is also a major producer of spices that form the cash crops of the state. Kerala's spice trade is about 3000 years old and it is well known how the fresh aroma of the superb quality Kerala spices lured foreigners into this country in the medieval ages. Kerala produces 96% of the country's national output of pepper. The important spices are cardamom, cinnamon, clove, turmeric,nutmeg and vanilla. Cardamom is exported and brings great revenues to the country.
Other cash crops that constitute the agricultural sector include Tea, coffee, cashew, coconut, areca nut, ginger and coconut. In fact coconut provides the principal source of income in Kerala- from coir industry to coconut shell artifacts; coconuts bring most of the economic gains to Kerala. Approximately, Kerala provides about 70% of Indian output of coconuts.
Cashew is also an essential cash crop. Raw cashew is seasoned with salt and spices and is also a hot favorite with everybody. Almost every tourist buys a packet of Kerala cashews and love gorging on them.
Kerala also accounts for 91% of natural rubber production of the country. Kottyam district has extensive areas producing and processing rubber. Apart from rubber, other plantation crop likes plantains or bananas are also grown in plenty. These bananas are of varied qualities ranging from red green and yellow colored.
Last but not the least, the home gardens of Kerala also adds to the state's Agrarian economy with a large number of vegetables, spices, coconuts, fruits grown locally.