Agriculture is by far the most important industry in the district. It provides the means of livelihood to a major proportion of the working population. Chandrapur district enjoys the enviable position of being a surplus area in respect of food-grains. It is one of the districts in Maharashtra which make substantial contributions to the food supply in the State. The impenetrable dense forest areas in the Sironcha, Gadhchiroli and Chanda tahsils are, however, unimportant from the agricultural point of view. These are also the areas which are very sparsely populated. Hence, the principal agricultural areas which are fairly populated show a higher dependence of population on agriculture.

Rice invariably occupied the largest area, until the advent of bad seasons ousted it in favour of jowar. From 1891 to 1896 the average area under rice was about 206,000 acres while that under jowar was 137,000 acres. From 1896 to 1899 there was a marked advance in the area under rice, the average rising to 304,000 acres; the jowar area at the same time expanded slightly to 151,000 acres. In 1899-1900 the rice area sank to 189,000 acres and in 1900-1901 it reached a low figure of 144,000 acres. The jowar area meanwhile expanded and from 1899 to 1903 averaged nearly 240,000 acres. Thereafter, however, the area under this crop during 1903 to 1907 averaged 136,000 acres.

In the post-independence period rice gained a lot of ground and invariably occupied the largest area. The rising trend of cultivation will become evident from the area [Area is in acres. Jowar area covers kharif as well rabi crops.] under rice and jowar given below: -





































"Of other crops, cotton after undergoing an eclipse for the  thirty years following the cessation of the American Civil War  began to expand in the early nineties, and by the beginning of  this century had almost reached the figures obtaining during the  war. During the last six years the average area under this crop  has mounted to 44,000 acres, and these figures, now that the  railway has been carried through to Ballalpur, may be expected to increase very substantially in the near future. " [Chanda District Gazetteer, 1909, page 149.]

The cultivation of cotton showed a steady trend from 1951 onwards. The area under this crop was 41,403 acres in 1951-52, 48,799 acres in 1952-53. 46,248 in 1953-54. 42,900 in 1954-55 and 43,300 in 1955-56. After 1960, however, there was a marked advance, the acreage under the crop being 62,301 in 1960-61, 66,681 in 1961-62 and 66,245 in 1962-63.

" Linseed has always been a popular crop, and except during the famine years has usually covered an area of from 50,000 to 80.000 acres: in 1906-07, the record area of 105,000 acres was under this crop. The area under wheat is usually slightly in excess of that under linseed, and has remained fairly steady except during and immediately after the famines: 70,000 acres were sown with it in 1906-07." [Ibid.]

The cultivation of both these crops recorded a higher trend in the post-independence period. This becomes evident from the statistics of the area under them-






















*Area in acres.

In the Sironcha tahsil, where garden crops play a very prominent part in the agricultural economy, tobacco is a very important crop, and occupies an area of about 1,800 acres in the Asaralli-Ankisa tract. The Virginia tobacco produced in this tract is one of the best qualities and it is exported to foreign countries. The production of this foreign exchange earning commodity receives good encouragement from the Government in the form of crop finance, fertilisers and pesticides.

The conditions and methods of cultivation, in Chandrapur district in general and the adivasi tracts in particular, were of a primitive nature even up to the beginning of this century. The following extracts from the Chanda Gazetteer of 1909 make it evident: -

" There is no deep ploughing; almost all crops are sown broadcast; little attention is paid to double-cropping or to the introduction of new varieties of crops; weeding is systematically neglected; manuring is confined to baris and double-cropped rice land; the value of rotation is not recognised; improvements are unknown, and is not even taken to keep existing tanks in repair. Everything is left to soil and climate, but climate and soil are such that the cultivator, so far from suffering for his negligence, regularly reaps crops that the more diligent toilers of less favoured tracts might well envy ".

"To the bulk of the population of the zamindari, cultivation is merely a secondary means of winning a livelihood, and agricultural produce simply serves to supplement the food supply forthcoming from the jungle. The call of the jungle is for ever in the ears of the Maria, he is for ever, so to speak, agog to ' pull out on the long trail', and his hereditary instinct for migration appears to have lost little, if any, of its primeval power. So although in the neighbourhood of the khalsa, we do find a certain amount of fairly stable cultivation, the typical cropping of these tracts is slovenly and shifting and bears the impress of the woodman rather than that of the farmer ----------- rice is simply thrown broadcast among the ashes, and nature is left to do the rest. No ploughing is required, so from the cultivators point of view the process is the acme of economy---------. After one year or at most two the plot is abandoned, and the brushwood upon it allowed to recuperate. It either reverts permanently to its pristine state of jungle or remains undisturbed for a period of at least ten years until the new growth is sufficiently luxuriant to tempt somebody to repeat the process. The system is a very wasteful one, and a good deal has been done to restrict it in estates under the management of the Court of Wards, but it is suited to the simple appliances of the aborigines, and within limits, and provided that care be taken to conserve valuable timber it is the best that could be devised for these stretches of wilderness, which are simply in the pioneer state of civilisation. "

Though ' the pioneer state of civilisation ' has not advanced into a developed state of cultivation, and though primitive methods have not given way to scientific appliances, there has been remarkable progress in the various aspects of the agricultural economy. There has been a widespread realisation of the importance and feasibility of intensive cultivation. The cultivators, except those in the adivasi areas, have now become conscious of the profitability and efficacy of improved methods of farming. There is greater awareness that ploughing with the iron plough, sowing with a coultered drill and interculturing with a hoe lead to higher productivity. The use of mechanical appliances is by no means absent. Green manures as well as chemical fertilisers have come to occupy a significant place in the farmers' list of farming requirements. Pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides which were hardly known to the peasants have come into gradual use. The efforts of the Agriculture department to persuade the cultivator to adopt improved methods of cultivation have led to satisfactory progress. Crop competitions and demonstrations have satisfactory the farmer to use the available chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The hybrid seed movement launched by the Government of Maharashtra since 1964-65 has given rich dividends in envolving pest-resisting and high yielding strains of wheat, jowar, paddy, cotton, etc. The hybrid seed movement has been successful in multiplying agricultural produce and in increasing the income of the farmers. The movement has a very bright future in the district.

There are seed multiplication centres at Ekarjuna, Bothali, Vehad, Sonapur Chunala and Sindewahi where improved seeds of paddy, jowar, wheat, cotton, sesame, gram, etc. are multiplied. The Sindewahi agricultural Research Centre, which was established in 1957-58, has been instrumental in evolving improved strains and acclimatising high yielding and pest resistant varieties of seeds. Sindewahi also provides the necessary facility for training the agricultural extension officials who are an integral part of the State machinery for agricultural extension. The Japanese method of paddy cultivation was started for the first time in the district at Sindewahi in 1958-59. The Brahmapuri and Mul areas were broughtunder this method in 1959-60, while Warora area adopted it in 1960-6l.

The kharif and rabi campaigns which were launched by the Agriculture department in 1958-59 have yielded good results in the form increased yield.

It should, however be noted that the progress evaluated above has been very slow and discouraging among the adivasis who form a sizeable proportion of the population. The adivasi farmer who is extremely ignorant and conservative is less amenable to change. His aversion to change coupled with extreme poverty deprives him of the fruits of Government activities.

Implementation of the Bombay Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Moldings Act of 1947, which began in April I960 in this district, has done a great deal in the domain of cultivation. Under this Act, fragmentation and sub-division or holdings is prohibited. The consolidation of uneconomic and scattered holdings has achieved remarkable progress in this district. The statistics of consolidation work bear a testimony to this fact.



No. of villages covered

Area covered (acres)

No. of landholders covered



(3) (4)

















District Total




Under this scheme the standard area deemed to be the mini-mum for profitable cultivation is stipulated at two acres for dry crop lands, one acre for rice land and half an acre for irrigated land. The plots of land smaller than the stipulated standard area are treated as fragments, and their sale is prohibited except to the contiguous land owner.

Prior to the progressive land legislation in the post-independence period there was a multiplicity of tenures and systems of tenancy. [For details refer Chapter VIII in Chanda District Gazetteer, published in 1909, as well as Chapter 4 in the present volume. The Chanda District Gazetteer of 1909 gives an interesting history of land revenue administration from the period of Gonds.] Under the malguzari system the malguzar was a feudal lord having uninhibited rights over a village or villages, while the cultivators were helpless tenants at will who could be evicted by the feudal lord. The zamindari system was also fraught with numerous evils. The element of uncertainty of tenure, the denial of proprietary rights to the tenants and the wasteful methods of the malguzars and zamindars were the greatest handicaps in the way of agricultural development. There was no incentive for the cultivators to adopt intensive methods of cultivation and to bring about land improvement. The tenant at will could not but be driven to stick to the traditional methods of subsistence farming.

Since the implementation of the progressive land legislation, the tenant cultivator has been assured of the security of tenure and a right to cultivation of the land. This, in turn, has given him an incentive to adopt intensive methods of cultivation and to make the necessary improvements in the land. This has been instrumental in increasing the productivity of land.

The progressive impact of the legislation has however been circumvented by malpractices which result into eviction of the tenant under some pretext. Many a tenant are deprived of the expected benefits by the zamindars and malguzars. The state of affairs in the adivasi areas is still distressing.