Posted by Anjali Kaur on Apr 29, 2020
State of Indian agriculture during the British rule

Indian Agriculture during the British rule

Agriculture in India forms the base of India’s economy. It is the primary occupation for the Indians. Indian Agriculture during the British rule remained fundamentally agrarian, about 85% of the country’s population lived mostly in villages and derived livelihood directly or indirectly from agriculture. Even then the agriculture sector continued to experience stagnation.

What was the main reason for stagnation in the agriculture sector during the British rule?

The causes of stagnation of Indian agriculture during the British rule;

  • The agriculture sector was stagnant due to various system of land settlement by the colonial government. The profit of the agriculture sector went to the zamindars instead of the cultivators.
  • Widespread commercialization of agriculture caused farmers to produce cash crops instead of food crops.
  • The motive behind agricultural activities shift from self-sustainability to commercialization focused upon the increase of profits of colonials. As a result, there was an increase in the yield of cash crops, but it helped the farmers in no way. Farmers were mass-producing cash crops instead of food crops, which ultimately used for the benefit of British industries. These cash crops include cotton, jute, oilseeds, sugarcane, tobacco, etc.

Features of Indian agriculture on the eve of independence

  • Agricultural productivity remained very low with some growth experienced due to the expansion of the aggregate area under cultivation.
  • The main interest of the zamindars was only to collect rent regardless of the economic condition of the cultivators. The terms of the revenue settlement were also responsible for such a behavior of zamindars, because if they failed to deposit fixed revenue on the specific date, then they would lose their land rights.
  • Low levels of technology, lack of irrigation facilities, and minimum use of fertilizers also caused a low level of agricultural productivity.

Read about the state of Indian economy to know more.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

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