Agriculture forms the livelihood of the majority in the district. It is also the main factor influencing the economy. Food crops as well as cash crops are cultivated here.
The important crop at the low land area is paddy. Usually hybrid seeds are cultivated.The area besides the Meenachil and Vembanad rivers are below the sea level and forms part of the Kuttanad belt. The paddy fields at Pallom, Ettumanoor, Kaduthuruthy, etc. are known as "upper" Kuttanad.
The entire district, barring a few villages in the low land region, lying close to Vembanad lake, is found to be suitable for rubber cultivation. One of the factor for the promotion of rubber in the district is the location of Rubber Board Head quarters and Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII).It s tha only agriculture crop which provides an assured and steady income to the farmer.
Coconut is the second important crop being cultivated in 41531 ha in the district. The area under coconut had been recording a steady decline over the last two decades. The cultivation of coconut is mainly confined to three taluks viz. Vaikom, Kottayam and Changanacherry, comprising the low lands and midlands is being replaced by rubber.
Pepper is also an important crop in the district. The crop is mostly found in the mid and high land portions of the district, taken as intercrop. Pure crop plantations are not very common in the district. Being an important export commodity, the pepper has a prime place in the economy. But the highly fluctuating prices and the "Quick wilt" disease has discouraged the farmers from the expansion of the crop leading.
The area under crop had been dwindling due to the high demand of rubber plantation among farmers. However, the crop is still found to be a viable inter crop among Coconut and Arecanut gardens. As farmers are now getting better prices for Cocoa, it is likely to pick up in future, especially in low lying areas. crop and mixed crop. The crop is recommended for inter cropping in the young rubber plantations. It is also possible to take the crop in the boundaries of other crop provided sufficient sunlight is available.
Rice is the staple food of the people. The Nair, Ezhavas and such other castes are not generally vegetarians, though some individual members may avoid non-vegetarians. There is no great difference in the dietary habits of the Christians and Muslims. The routine dietary in a family consists of breakfast , lunch, tiffin and supper. Kanji or Rice gruel with some vegetable curry and pickles formed the main breakfast until very recently in almost all families, but it has now been replaced by tea, coffee or other beverages taken along with dishes like Dosai, Iddali, Poori, Chappathi and Uppuma.
The lunch is always substantial, the most important items of the menu being cooked rice of Choru, special curries and butter milk. Parboiled rice is used here instead of Kaccha or raw is that in all culinary preparations coconut oil is freely used instead of gingli or mustard oil used in other parts of India . The tiffin in the afternoon consists of a cup of tea or coffee and some sweet or delicacy. The supper which is taken after sunset consists either of Kanji or similar items as for lunch. When there was acute scarcity of rice in the wake of the Second World war, Wheat was used as a substitute for rice. Preparations of wheat such as Poori , Chappathi and Uppuma are becoming popular. Owing to the poor cattle wealth of the District, milk is used only by richer sections of the community. Pickles of mango , cherunaranga (lime fruit ), nellikka (the fruit of phyllanthus emblica), etc ., are popular. The condiments generally used are turmeric, pepper, ginger, cardamom, cloves, spices, chilli, mustard, onion, garlic etc. Hydrogenated oils like Vanaspathi are seldom used .