Agriculture engages some 75 percent of Jharkhand's population. Despite significant gains in mining and manufacturing in the late 20th century, the state ranked last in the country in per capita income. Almost half of its people were considered by the government to be below the poverty level.
About half the area is under cultivation, but pressure of population has pushed cultivation to the furthest limits, and little remains to be developed.
The transitional nature of the climatic zone is reflected in the cropping pattern, which shows a mixture of wet and dry crops. Rice is everywhere the dominant crop, but corn (maize), wheat, barley, gram, oilseeds, and pulses (legumes) are important supplementary crops. Sugarcane is grown in a fairly well-defined belt in the northwest. Jute, a crop of the hot, moist lowlands, is found only in the easternmost plain districts. There are three harvests in a year:
bhadai, dominated by corn that is sown from May to June and gathered in Bhado (August to September);
aghani, consisting primarily of rice sown in mid-June and gathered in the month of Aghan (December); and
rabi, made up largely of wheat that ripens in the plains in spring.