Under British colonial rule, agriculture was a major source of livelihood for more than two-thirds of the economically active population in South Asia. However, growth rates in agriculture were stagnant and inequality in the region increased, a trend that continued well after 1947. This chapter discusses why growth in agriculture was so uneven, why there was continuity in the regional pattern of agrarian change, and why growth was low overall. It examines agrarian change in India over the period, 1858–1947, along with trends in agricultural production and income, resources and techniques (soil, water, equipment, seeds, livestock), the expansion of the agricultural commodity market, agricultural crops (indigo, opium, cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane), agriculture in major regions such as Punjab and Deccan Plateau), land market, labour market, credit market, and the effects of commercialization. The chapter concludes by assessing the factors behind the slow growth in Indian agriculture during the colonial period.
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