As stated earlier in this volume, agriculture is the principal means of livelihood of the people in Chandrapur district. It provides work to nearly 82.08 per cent of the working population as per the 1961 Census returns. Landless labourers comprise a large section of the population. It is therefore necessary to study the trends of wages of agricultural labourers and craftsmen.

The Chanda District Gazetteer published in 1909 throws a searching light on the wage trends during a period of about fifteen years between 1893 and 1908. The relevant account from  the same is reproduced below:-

Statistics of Wages.-" An able-bodied agricultural labourer earned Rs. 4-8 per month in 1893, Rs. 5-2 in 1895, Rs. 4-12 in 1897 and Rs. 5 in 1898. His wages were reduced to Rs. 3-12, in 1899. a rate which continued till 1901, as a result of the famine of 1900. They recovered to Rs. 4-11 in 1902 and 1903 and at the present time (1909) the wages of agricultural labour vary from 2 annas to 3 and 4 aunas a day. In the towns of Warora and Chanda coolies can earn 4 to 6 annas daily. These rates are for males only. Females get half the wages of males. A common blacksmith earned Rs. 9-8 per mensem in 1893. During the next four years his earnings varied between Rs. 10 and Rs. 10-8 and fell to Rs. 9-8 in 1898 as a result of famine in 1897. Since then they have improved and we find Rs. 11-4 recorded during the following three years. In 1902 they rose to Rs. 13-2 and in 1903 to Rs. 15 a month. Now (in 1908) he receives 8 annas a day in Sironcha, 12 annas in Chanda and up to a rupee in Warora. A common mason is shown as having earned Rs. 10-6 a month in 1893, Rs. 13 in 1895. Rs. 12-8 in 1897, Rs. 10-5 in 1899 and Rs. 11-4 in 1900. The wages improved in 1902 and 1903 when he received Rs. 13-2 as his monthly income. In 1908 he got 10 annas a day rising to a rupee in Warora. A common carpenter who is better paid than either the blacksmith or the mason earned Rs. 12 a month in 1893, Rs. 12-4 in 1896, Rs. 14 in 1898 and Rs. 12-9 in 1899. In 1900 he received Rs. 13-2 and since then his wages have decidedly improved, having risen to Rs. 14 a month in 1901. Rs. 15 in 1902 and Rs. 18-12 in 1903. In 1908 he was getting from 12 annas a day to Rs. 1-4, the latter being the rate obtainable in Warora.

Farm-servants.-" In Chanda tahsil the common term for an agricultural servant in regular employment is awari, and in Warora he is called Saha korvya manus or the man getting 6 kuros. In Sironcha the Telugu word paleru is used. The dependants of an awari or Saha korvya manus, i.e., his wife or his small son. if they assist him in his duties, are called rapte. Farm-servants receive the bulk of their wages in grain, an arrangement which tells in their favour when, as of recent years, the prices of agricultural produce range high. There has, it is true, been a tendency in the rice tract to reduce the actual amount of grain paid to the farm-servant, but this reduction has not been affected in anything like inverse ratio to the increase in the price of grain. Thus, at the first settlement the servant of a rice cultivator received 740 seers of rice as his yearly wage besides grain perquisites amounting to 315 seers: now he only gets 600 seers and grain perquisites amounting to about 130 peers, but meanwhile prices have risen roughly cent per cent. In the open-field tract the amount of grain remuneration has risen from 635 seers of juari at the last settlement  to 725 seers at present, and thus, having regard to the rise in the Price of juari, it is obvious that the farm-servant of this tract has considerably improved his position.

"At present the fixed monthly wage of a farm-servant in regular employ in the rice tract is 5 kuros of dhan per mensem in most tracts, and 6 kuros in the Warora tahsil. In the open field tract the monthly rate is 5 kuros and 2 pailis of juari. But in either case this remuneration is swelled by perquisites of various kinds. Thus in the open tract, the farm servant gets a paili of each kind of grain sown: when employed in watching the crops he may take three pailis of juari each day as remuneration, and besides this be will probably have a fighting-cock to bear him company which with its living will pick up a free living among the juari pods: he has the right of sarwa or gleaning the field, and in addition to this he gets about three kuros for cutting and bringing the crop to the threshing-floor. In this latter task his wife assists, and the dues he receives for it are known as wata-wadga, because the woman holds out her cloth so as to form a hollow (wata) which is filled with ears of juari while the man gets a wadga or basketful of grain for his share of the work. Besides this the wife gets an allowance of three kuros for bringing food to the field: this is called upsara, and she also grinds the master's grain and makes cow-dung cakes for him, taking half of the latter in reward for her labour. In the rice tract the servant gets four annas as a pourboire during the damp process of transplantation: he has the right of gleaning, while at reaping time he takes a handful out of each bojha or headload that he carries to the threshing-floor. If employed on rakhwali or watching the crops, he can cut two pailis of dhan per diem. In both the rice and open tracts alike, there arc various other perquisites and privileges. Thus each year the servant gets Rs. 2 to buy himself a blanket (locally called waz) and Re. 1 or Re. 1-4 to buy a pair of shoes and free food is given at the cost of the master at the festivals of Pola and Nagpanchami. Another right, known as matera, is that of taking the sweepings of the threshing-floor after threshing is over and extracting the grain from them. Again, being as it were the natural priest of the god of the threshing-floor, the farm-servant gets an allowance of grain called khatdeo for offerings prior to threshing. Other privileges are free firewood to the extent of two cart-loads and a rupee's worth of thatching grass. It is rather difficult to calculate what all these extras amount to in the aggregate, but they may roughly be estimated to average between half a khandi and one khandi, apart from the cash doles."

Casual agricultural labourers.- "Casual agricultural labourers, employed at periods of exceptional pressure, usually get two pailis a day, or, if required to watch a crop at night, three pailis'. For sowing and weeding women are as a rule employed, and are remunerated at the rate of one paili a day for the former and three pice a day for the latter. For transplanting rice, a man is paid Re. 1 for five days and a woman Re. 1 for  ten days. For reaping juari men get 4 pailis and women 2 pailis a day, for wheat the rate is two pailis of the grain for men and one paili for women. Other grains are usually paid  for in eash at 2 annas a day. The picking of cotton is paid for hy a share of from 1/16th to 1/20th of the amount picked.

Village grazier.-"The regular village grazier is called the dhorki and gets 1 anna per month for each head of cattle under his charge. The cattle are grazed at the owner's risk, and the grazier is exempted from making good any losses, an irresponsibility which is sometimes, though not often, abused. Two or three tenants often club together and hire a boy to look after their animals, while very well-to-do persons have a private grazier employed exclusively in their own service. Wealthy landlords hire a woman as shenakari to collect, and stack the cow-dung of their cattle. She either stacks it for fuel or pits it for manure, and she has also other duties such as leeping the floor and whitewashing the walls.

Village Servants.-"Village servants in name and duties usually correspond to those found in other Districts of the Province, and their functions are for the most part so familiar that they require no detailed description. The Lohar or Khati gets 2 or 3 kuros a year for attending to each tenant's ploughs, but the tendency is, as elsewhere, growing yearly stronger to remunerate him by the job. So also with the Barhai or carpenter who is even more commonly paid by the job. The Mhali or barber (called Mangali in Sironcha) and Wathi or washerman (called Chakali in Sironcha) receive three to four kuros a year. On festive and ceremonious occasions they are generally given food and a small cash perquisite for drink in Sironcha. In some places the rate is one kuro of juari for each adult male in the family and perquisites amounting to about a kuro with some food on festivals. They are however not engaged by all tenants but only by malguzars and big tenants, poor tenants paying 2 pice each time they require their services.

" The Bhumak also called Deohari and in Sironcha Permadu worships the village gods and keeps off evil influences from the village. He also supplies pan patrawali or leaf-plates on festivals and at feasts, and cleans the cooking pots of Government officials visiting the village. For these services he receives one kuro or more according to circumstances from each tenant and perquisites amounting to about a kuro. He is sometimes given a piece of land rent-free (rent Rs. 3 or Rs. 4). "

" The Joshi or village priest has no fixed hak. He fixes the date of sajoni when the malguzar with his tenants starts ploughing. If he goes to the farm, every tenant gives him from 4 to 8 pailis. He is generally paid by the job. His fee for officiating at a marriage may be Rs. 1-4 and for reciting katha Re. 1. The Chamar known as Madgi in Sironcha is not a regular village servant and is said to be remunerated by job work in Chanda and Garhchiroli tahsils and by a fixed contribution in Warora and Sironcha tahsils. In Sironcha he receives one kuncha of juari (14 seers) for each species of articles he supplies, e.g., for a pair of shoes one kuncha, for leather thongs one kuncha, and so on. Besides he is customarily allowed to collect the remnants of the harvest floor. In Warora he gets 4 pailis to a kuro of juari per plough for the repairs of shoes, etc. For an ornamental shoe for which this District is famous he generally gets from Re. 1 to Rs. 1-12. The ornamental work is generally done in silk and takes the shape of flowers or pictorial fishes. An ordinary pair of shoes will fetch from 14 annas to Rs. 1-4. " [Central Provinces District Gazetteers, Chanda District, 1909, Volume A, pp. 215-220.]

With changes in the price level from time to time the wages of different categories of workers underwent fluctuations. However, the rise and fall in the wage level have not kept pace with changes that have taken place in the price level.

The wages of agricultural labour as well as of craftsmen showed a rising trend during the past few decades. The wages of casual labour as well as of fixed wage earners have increased, though the increase in the case of the latter has been lower than that of the former. The earnings of carpenters, blacksmiths and other skilled craftsmen have increased considerably. Skilled jobs in agriculture are paid at a daily rate ranging from Rs. 3.50 in the sowing and harvesting season.

Field workers are paid at rates varying from Rs. 2 to Rs. 3. Women engaged in agricultural operations, such as, weeding, winnowing, cutting and harvesting are paid Rs. 1.25 to Rs. 2 per day. Certain types of operations are paid on the basis of turn-over of work. A female worker gets about Rs. 2 to Rs. 2.50 per day during the harvesting season.

The wage earnings of almost all categories of casual labour decline during the months between February and June. During this period the workers turn to work in the forests. The wage earnings of skilled forest workers are far better than those of agricultural labourers. The extremely rich and varied forests in the district are a perennial source of employment to a consider-able section of population in the district. The labour intensive operations such as felling, sizing, afforestation, bunding, trenching, collection of tendu leaves, charcoal making and many others offer fair wages to the workers. The government schemes regarding scientific management of forests have gone a long way in expanding the avenues of employment and earnings of labourers in the district.

The system of balutewari which was the basis of the self sufficient village economy of the past is still prevalent to a limited  extent. It has lost its importance during the last three decades.  The balutedras (village artisans) consist of barbers, potters,  shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, washermen, sweepers,  mahars. etc. They are paid in kind for the services rendered  by them. The payment in kind may consist of paddy, wheat and jowar which is given at the harvest time. But this system is very much on the decline. The agriculturists now prefer to pay in cash rather than in terms of food-grains. Perhaps this is due to the rising prices of agricultural produce. This has an adverse effect on the economic position of some categories of. artisans who have been compelled to search for other means of livelihood.