Agriculture has remained the main occupation of a majority
of the population for a long time. The census of 1951 returned
7,47,453 persons as dependent upon agriculture. Thus, agricultural population was returned to be 72.3 per cent of the total
population of the district.
The basic structure of the agrarian economy of the district has not
changed much during last 5 to 6 decades. The pattern of
crops has remained more or less the same throughout the century
except that a few fruit crops, such as orange and banana, have
come to occupy a more important position in the agrarian com-
plex of the district. Orange cultivation was introduced by the
beginning of this century. To-day it is regarded as one of the
most important commercial crops in Warud and Morshi area,
An average orange crop fetches handsome returns to the
cultivator. The same can also be said about bananas which have
been introduced lately in the district. These garden crops have
improved the economic position of the cultivators. The
performance of cotton and jowar cultivation and the orange crop
has an important bearing on the economic life. In 1876, cotton
occupied 35.9 per cent of the cropped area; in 1881, 36.7 per
cent; in 1891, 38.2 per cent; in 1901, 47.7 per cent; in 1905,
52 per cent [ Central Provinces District Gazetteers, Amravati District, 1911.] and in 1960-61, 50 per cent. Cotton cultivation was
formerly restricted to better classes of soil, but owing to the great
boom in the cotton trade and the consequent rise in prices during
recent years, cotton is often grown on inferior soils.
The production of agricultural commodities also has shown an upward trend. The total production of the principal crops has been gradually increasing since the boom following the First World War. This is attributable to two principal sets of factors among numerous others. Firstly, extensive cultivation brought about by the reclamation of fallows and culturable waste lands and adoption of double crops has brought more land under cultivation. With the beginning of economic planning in the country, the Government has undertaken various programmes of expansion of the land under the plough. The Government fallow lands are being allotted to landless labourers who form farming co-operative societies. This has brought about a definite improve- ment in the standard of living of the beneficiaries and raised total production. The landless labourers who have been in the lowest echelons of society have begun to enjoy a better living.
Secondly, intensive cultivation and aids to reform agriculture,
comprising improvement of seeds supply, irrigation facilities,
fertilisers, credit facilities, soil conservation, marketing facilities,
etc., have gone a long way in improving the economic welfare of
the agricultural class.
The seed improvement programme, which made its humble beginning in 1927, has produced quite good results in so far as
propagation of improved strains of cotton, jowar, wheat and
groundnut is concerned. The cultivator has become conscious or
the progressive measures. The Government established a seed multiplication and demonstration farm in 1954-55. Special mention may be made of the cotton extension scheme under which seed of Buri 0394 and Buri 147 are distributed. Every cultivator, since long, is aware of the productivity accruing from the application of organic manures. But the boom of agricultural prices has attracted the keen attention of the agriculturist who is found hunting for organic as well as inorganic fertilisers. Compost manuring and careful preservation of cowdung show a favourable trend. The Government has been supplying nitrogenous fertilisers, such as, ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate, urea, phosphate and mixtures through marketing co-operative societies and multipurpose co-operative societies. However, there is a heavy shortage of fertilisers, for which there is a competitive demand.
Lack of irrigation facilities is the greatest hindrance to agricultural prosperity in Amravati district. Sometime ago wells were the only source of irrigation. Recently a few minor irrigation works such as bandharas and lift irrigation works have been introduced. The farmers are encouraged to dig wells. Soil conservation which is so very important for improving the productivity of the soil has received the attention of the Government since the beginning of planning. The soil conservation operations, which are to be done collectively, consist of bunding, trenching, terracing and planting trees at strategic places. These operations have been undertaken in the Melghat and Achalpur tahsils.
Agricultural co-operation has achieved remarkable progress in the post-independence days. Co-operative movement is seeking to relieve the agricultural economy from the evils of the (1) meagre financial resources of the cultivator, (2) the private moneylenders and (3) low productivity of land. Co-operative farming, which has taken roots in the district, seeks to lessen the evils of increasing pressure of population on land, inequitable distribution of land, uneconomic size of holding, sub-division and fragmentation of land, low productivity, primitive methods of cultivation and illiteracy of the farmer.
The co-operation complex has brought about an institutional framework comprising co-operative credit societies, multipurpose societies, service co-operatives, co-operative purchase and sale societies, co-operative farming societies and consumers cooperatives. Given the requisite set of conditions, the co-operative movement promises a new economic life.
Regulation of the sale of the agricultural produce of the farmer assures him a fair return. It insures the farmer against malpractices, underhand selling and lower bidding. It is noteworthy that the cotton market at Amravati was regulated as
early as 1872. This was followed by the regulation of Dhamangaon market in 1897, of Daryapur in 1903, of Anjangaon in 1916
and of Warud in 1932. At present there are six regulated
cotton markets, including the Achalpur market. This has given the agriculturists considerable relief.
In the past the agriculturist used to follow traditional methods partly because of his meagre knowledge and partly because he lived below the margin of subsistence, and could not therefore think of experimenting with improved methods of cultivation. As the recent methods of cultivation in the community development programme demonstrated that improvement was possible, and that fertilisers and better seeds did in fact increase outturn, the cultivator has become willing and even anxious to follow improved methods.
As a sequel to the development schemes, the community programme made a valuable contribution to development by fostering keenness among the agricultural masses. The result of this awakening, community development inputs, increased irrigation and the abolition of Zamindari tenures was to raise agricultural production to its present level.
The progressive land reform legislation has brought about remarkable results in the form of some security of tenure to the tenant and higher productivity. But the legislation on ceilings has not met with success because of bogus partitions, and a large number of tenants are being deprived of the stipulated gains by the landlords. This has curbed the tenant's incentive to improve the land.
The scheme of prevention of sub-division and fragmentation of land has still not made much progress. The work of consolidation of holdings is done at quite a slow process.
The higher value of cash crops is leading to diversion of land from foodgrains to cotton, orange and banana.