Agriculture is the mainstay of the majority of the people in Dhulia. The Census of 1951 recorded 8,85,834 persons as dependent on agriculture in various capacities, such as, owner cultivators, tenant cultivators, non-cultivating owners of land and agricultural labourers. The 1961 Census which followed work rather than dependence as a basis, returned 2,94,227 persons as cultivators and 2,32,913 persons as agricultural labourers. In fact about 75 per cent of the total population are dependent on agriculture in one way or another.

Though the agrarian economy of the district has not witnessed basic changes in its structural fabric, it has allowed a number of changes in the pattern of crops, methods of farming and inputs. The various aspects of the agricultural economy are discussed in the following paragraphs.

The principal crops in this district are groundnut, cotton, jowar, bajri, wheat and chillis. Though jowar (dadar) and wheat are grown in the rabi season, kharif is the principal season. Of the total cultivated area in the district, irrigation facilities are available only to 3.5 per cent. Wheat, chillis, Deviraj cotton (CO2) and sugarcane are grown in irrigated land. There has been a growing tendency in this district to bring more and more land under irrigation and double cropping. For example, an area of 2,23,975 acres was sown more than once in 1961-62, whereas the corresponding area in 1959-60 was 2,04.515 acres.

There have been remarkable changes in the pattern of crops. Cash crops have attracted the keen attention of the fanner who takes the cultivation of chillis, Deviraj cotton, groundnut and sugarcane as more profitable. Consequently there has been a diversion of land from food crops to these crops. The area under groundnut increased from 225295 acres in 1952-53 to 322007 acres in 1961-62; while the acreage under cotton increased from 155622 to 209455 during the same period. The acreage under jowar decreased from 445606 in 1952-53 to 437714 in 1961-62. The production of these crops, however, does not reflect consistent trend because of the failure of monsoons during 1952-53. The production of groundnut was 22,516 tons in 1952-53 and 10,599 tons in 196-62; that of cotton was 13,400 tons in 1952-53 and 32,837 tons in 1961-62, that of jowar was 40,724 tons in 1952-53 and 84,659 in 1961-62.

The Deviraj cotton campaign which aims at propagating the cultivation of this long staple fine variety has shown very good results. It commanded an area of 4200 acres in 1960-61, and its production has been quite encouraging. The production of sugarcane was. very much limited in the past, but now it occupied an area of more than 6.500 acres. The improved method of sugarcane cultivation, viz., Padegaon method, has replaced the old method which yielded smaller production. Sugarcane cultivation has received good encouragement from the government in the form of supply of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Efforts to establish a sugar factory in the district are afoot.

The rabi jowar experimental scheme over an area of about 5000 acres near Shirpur has demonstrated the potentiality of jowar production under ideal conditions. The cultivators in the district are expected to adopt the method of cultivation expounded by the scheme. The kharif and rabi campaigns which were launched by the Agriculture department in 1958-59 have yielded good results, in the sense that the production has increased and that the cultivator has become conscious of improved methods of cultivation.

It is a very remarkable trend that barring the Adivasi population, the majority of the cultivators have become conscious of the essentiality and profitability of the improved methods of cultivation. There is a widespread awareness that ploughing with the iron plough, sowing with a coultered drill and interculturing with a hoe lead to higher yield. There is greater awareness of the potentiality of green as well as chemical fertilisers. In fact, the demand for manures has much outstripped their supply from all sources. The use of pesticides, insecticides and fungicides which was virtually unknown in the past has become quite popular. The peasant wants to use them but sometimes finds it difficult to get them.

Persistent efforts of the officials of the Agriculture department to persuade the farmer to adopt improved methods of farming have brought about salient results. Crop competitions and demonstration activities have encouraged the farmer to use the available chemical fertilisers and hybrid seeds. The hybrid movement launched since 1964-65 has went a long way in evolving pest resistant and high yielding strains of foodgrains. There are eight seed multiplication centres in the district. These centres evolved improved seeds of jowar, bajri, groundnut and wheat sufficient for sowing 9748 acres of land in 1960-61.[Maharashtrache Zilhe, Dhulia District, Publicity Department.] The Agriculture department supplied 3565 tons of ammonium sulphate and 1804 tons of super phosphate during the same year. [Maharashtrache Zilhe, Dhulia District, Publicity Department.] This supply was, however, very much meagre in relation to the demand. It should be noted that the use of chemical fertilisers became popular during the last about 25 years.

The programme of bunding and soil conservation which was launched in Dhulia district in 1948 has started bearing fruits only recently. In the initial stages there was no proper response to this programme. The programme is claimed to have covered about 2.09,777 acres of land up to 1960-131.[Maharashtrache Zilhe, Dhulia District, Publicity Department.] Bunding helps to retain the fertility of soil by preventing erosion and by retaining moisture, ft also helps to maintain the level of sub-soil water.

The progress evaluated above has, however, been discouraging in the areas of Adivasi and backward population. The average Adivasi fanner, overwhelmed by his ignorance and poverty, is more conservative to change and less amenable to progress.

Agricultural research and education are of primary importance for scientific agriculture. Dhulia district has not lagged behind in this respect. There is an agricultural research centre which undertakes research to evolve hybrid strains and recommends pesticides and insecticides. There is an Agricultural College as well as an Agricultural School providing facilities for training the necessary personnel. The Agricultural College at Dhulia, established in 1960, possesses a research laboratory and experimental farms which serve as model to the farmers.

After the enactment of the Bombay Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act in 1947, fragmentation and subdivision of holdings was prohibited. The consolidation of holdings, how-ever, has not yielded any spectacular results. The programme has been implemented to some extent in Dhulia, Sindkheda and Sakri talukas.

The progressive land legislation in the post-independence period has assured security of tenure to the tenant cultivator who was formerly at the mercy of the landlord. This, in turn, has given him an incentive to adopt intensive methods of cultivation and to bring about land improvement. The legislative provisions are however circumvented, by a number of malpractices which result into eviction of the tenant under one pretext or the other. The legislation on ceilings, beneficial as it is, has not met with success because of bogus partitions. A large number of tenants are being deprived of the expected gains by the landlords. The state of affairs in the Adivasi areas is distressing. The progressive land legislation has not brought about good results for them.

The regulation of trade in agricultural produce which found its beginning in 1930 in this district has a great impact on the economic condition of the agriculturists. As discussed in the Chapter on ' Trade', sale and purchase of agricultural produce were fraught with malpractices and irregularities which were harmful to the agriculturists in the past. The regulated markets have eliminated these malpractices, and protected the agriculturists interests.

The pattern of land utilisation throws an important sidelight on the agricultural prosperity of a district. The average percentage distribution of the geographical area during the period 1957-58 to 1959-60 is given below:-


Per cent.

1. Total Geographical area


2. Forests


3. Barren and unculturable land


4. Land put to non-agricultural uses.


5. Culturable waste


6. Permanent pastures


7. Miscellaneous tree crops and groves


8. Current fallows


9. Other fallows


10. Net area sown


11. Gross cropped area


The pattern of land utilisation during 1961-62 is given below:-


Area in acres.

1. Total Geographical area


2. Forests


3. Barren and unculturable land..


4. Land put to non-agricultural uses.


5. Culturable waste


6. Permanent pastures


7. Land under miscellaneous tree crops


8. Current fallows


9. Other fallows


10. Net area sown


11. Area sown more than once


12. Total cropped area


13. Total uncultivated area


The net area sown in Dhulia district is about 44.49 per cent of the geographical area against the average of 57.69 per cent for the State. The low proportion of the area sown is due to the high proportion of forests, and barren and unculturable land. It is a noteworthy fact that a large acreage of land, viz., about 1,46,366 acres, classified above as culturable waste, current fallows and other fallows, can be brought under cultivation. There is sufficient scope for extensive cultivation in respect of the land left idle at present.


The valleys in this district are open and level, and the smaller . rivers, rising in the Sahyadri hills, flow in shallow beds blocked here and there by rocky ledges of much service in making masonry weirs (bandharas) while from their flatness or very gentle cross slope large areas of land are easily commanded. This irrigation from weirs is chiefly practised near the hills on the upper parts of the river courses in the sub-divisions of Pimpalner, Dhulia, Nandurbar, and Amalner. As the rivers grow larger and draw near the Tapi, their beds are too deep sunk to be easily dammed. And the Tapi itself, flowing more than 100 feet below the level of the plain, is not suited for irrigation works. [Khandesh District Gazetteer, 1880.]

The Lower Panjhra water work was by far the only irrigation scheme in the district in 1880. The Lower Panjhra work consisted of the Mukti reservoir, ten dams across the Panjhra. and water courses from these dams. The outlay on these works up to 1879-80 amounted to Rs. 4,56,534 and irrigated an area of '3798 acres in that year. Besides this, there were a number of wells which catered to the needs of irrigation. But the irrigation potential of these wells was very insignificant.

However, during the last eighty years or so since 1880, the irrigation potential increased considerably. In 1961-62, the net area brought under irrigation was 73,494 acres. Of this, 23.278 acres of land were irrigated through government canals, 1302 acres through private canals, 2206 acres through tanks and 46,708 acres through wells.

This progress cannot be said to have achieved the maximum results. Every season of short rainfall greatly encourages irrigation. In many places water is now used for the growth even of the inferior grains. However the existing irrigation facilities do not meet the demand for them. Recently a few minor irrigation works, viz. bandharas and lift irrigation works have been started. The agriculturists are given certain incentive benefits to dig wells.

Soil conservation which is so very important for preventing the erosion of soil and for retaining the fertility of land has received the attention of the government since the beginning of five year plans. The soil conservation measures undertaken in this district comprise bunding, trenching, terracing and planting trees. These measures will save agricultural land from any reduction in its fertility.