Nivedha Somasundaram , asked a question
Subject: Social Science , asked on 9/11/12

i want brief summary of chapter peasants and farmers

Sanaya Gupta , added an answer, on 2/3/12
40 helpful votes in Social Science

 The Coming of Modern Agriculture in England

 The countryside was open in large parts of England; each villager was allocated  strips of 
land for cultivation at the beginning of each year.
 All villagers had access to the common land where they pastured their cows, collected 
fuel wood and hunted.
 Rich farmers were eager to improve their sheep breeds and ensure good feed for them
by controlling large areas of land in compact blocks. They began dividing and enclosing 
common land and building hedges around their holdings for separating it from that of 
the others.
 They drove out villagers who had small cottages on the commons, and prevented the 
poor from entering the enclosed fields.
 The British Parliament passed 4,000 Acts legalizing these enclosures.
 New Demands for Grain
 In the late eighteenth century, land was enclosed for grain production because of 
various reasons:
 The rapid expansion of the British population and urban migration increased the 
demand for food grains.
 The prices of food grains increased in England owing to disrupted trade and the 
import of food grains from Europe, while France was at war with England.
 The landowners enclosed their lands and enlarged the area under grain cultivation and 
pressurised the Parliament to pass the Enclosure Acts.
 The Age of Enclosures
 Grain production grew quickly.
 The food-grain production increased because the landlords sliced up pasturelands, 
carved up open fields, cut up forest commons, took over marshes, and turned large 
areas into agricultural fields.
 Enclosures became necessary for making long-term investments on land and plan crop 
rotation for improving the soil; and also allow the richer landowners to expand land 
under their control and produce more for the market. Impact of Enclosures on the Poor
 The poor no longer enjoyed access to the enclosed property of the landowners.
 They were displaced from the land and were deprived of their customary rights.
 Labourers had to live with their landowners throughout the year, doing a variety of odd 
 Work became insecure, employment uncertain and income unstable.
 Agriculture in America  
 Till the 1780s, white American settlements were confined to a narrow strip of coastal 
land in East America.
 There were various nomadic Native American groups who lived by hunting, gathering, 
fishing and cultivating.
 Early 20
century: White Americans had moved westward and established control up to 
the west coast, displacing local tribes and converting entire landscape into different 
agricultural belts.
 The American Indians were forced to sign treaties, give up their land and move 
westward by the US government.
 The settlers slashed and burnt forests, pulled out the stumps, cleared the land for 
cultivation, built log cabins in the forest clearings, erected fences around the fields, 
ploughed and sowed the land.
 When the soil was impoverished and exhausted in one place, the migrants moved 
further west, for exploring new lands and raise a new crop.
 The Wheat Farmers
 There was a dramatic expansion of wheat production in the USA because–
 The urban population of the USA was growing and the export market was 
becoming bigger.
 The spread of the railways made it easier to transport the grain from the wheatgrowing regions to the eastern coast for export.
 During the First World War Russian supplies of wheat were cut off and the USA 
had to feed Europe.
 The Coming of New Technology
 The settlers modified their implements for meeting their requirements in new lands and 
 They devised a variety of new ploughs and started using tractors and disk ploughs for
clearing vast stretches for wheat cultivation.
 1831: Cyrus McCormick invented the first mechanical reaper for harvesting crops. Early 20
century: Most of the farmers were using combined harvesters for cutting the 
standing crops. 
 Affects of Mechanisation on the Poor
 Mechanisation brought misery for the poor.
 They had to leave their farms and look for jobs elsewhere as they were unable to repay 
the loans to the banks.
 Wheat prices fell and export markets collapsed; thus leading to the Great Agrarian 
Depression of the 1930s.
 Dust Bowl
 1930: Dust storms blew over the Southern plains and damaged livestock, cattle, houses 
and lives.
 When wheat cultivation had expanded the farmers recklessly uprooted all vegetation, 
and tractors had overturned the soil, and broken the sod into dust.
 The Indian Farmer and Opium Production
 A regular system of land revenue, increase in revenue rates, and expansion of area 
under cultivation was practiced by the British.
 The peasants and pastoralists faced problems as cultivation expanded and the area under 
forests and pastures declined.
 By the end of the 19
century, India was producing indigo, opium, sugarcane, cotton, 
jute, wheat and several other crops for export to Europe and England.
 The cultivators were unwilling to cultivate opium for a variety of reasons–
 Large volumes of opium flowed out of Bengal ports to the Chinese market.
 Opium needed the best land which meant that food crops had to be grown on 
lower quality of land. This adversely affected the food grain production.
 No other crop could be grown on the land on which opium had been grown.
 Opium plant was delicate and cultivators had to carefully nurture it.
 The price of the government paid to the cultivators for the opium they produced 
was very low.
 A taste for Tea: The Trade with China
 The Confucian rulers of China, the Manchus, were suspicious of all foreign merchants.
 The western merchants began an illegal trade of opium with China.
 The English cultivated a taste for Chinese tea, while the Chinese became addicted to 
 The returns from the sale of opium financed the tea purchases in China.
 How Were Unwilling Cultivators Made to Produce Opium? The government opium agents provided money to the village headmen, who in turn 
gave it to the cultivators.
 By taking loan, the cultivator was forced to grow opium on a specified area of land and 
hand over the produce to the agents once the crop had been harvested.
 The prices given to the peasants were so low that the peasants began agitating for higher 
prices and refused to take advances.
 By 1773: The British government in Bengal had established a monopoly in opium trade.
 The local traders were offering much higher prices to peasants and exporting opium to 
  • Was this answer helpful?
  • 40
93% users found this answer helpful.
View Full Answer
View More 1 Answer


Shushrita Das , Meritnation Expert added an answer, on 14/11/12

You may refer to the Revision Notes of the chapter.

This conversation is already closed by Expert

  • Was this answer helpful?
  • 5
61% users found this answer helpful.

What are you looking for?