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under this comparatively new project is only partly developed ;
manure, labour and cattle are less plentiful than they should be ;
and the ryots still adhere to the customs which prevailed before
the project was completed and there was usually only water
enough for one crop. They often waste so much time by putting



AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION. 115

off the preparation of the seed-beds and leaving the fields to eoak CHAP. IV.

before beffinniuff to plouj^h, that the period loft tliem is insufficient Wet

» ii 1.- -• p X Cultivation.

lor the cultivation oi two crops.

Where two crops are grown, they are called respectively the its culti^a-
kodai and the Jcdlam crops. The cultivation of the former is bogun ^''^""
about the middle of June, at which time the Pcriydr water usually
first comes down. Sometimes, however, the seed-beds are started
before this, water raised from tanks or wells being used for them.
Transplantation from seed-beds is the rule. The seed is usually
soaked before being sown. Sowing broadcast is not uncommon,
but is looked upon as bad farming.

The actual processes of [jaddy cultivation are much the same
as elsewhere. The land is first manured. Sheep or goats are
penned thickly upon it and silt from tanks or channels, village
rubbish and farm-yard manure are carted on to it. Cake is very
seldom employed. Then the field is flooded and the manure
turned in with the usual wooden plough. In the deep black soil
common in Madura taluk the cattle sometimes sink so deeply that
much ploughing is impossible, and there the land is turned over
with the big hoe called the mamutti. When the field has been
reduced to a state of slush, green leaf-manure is trodden or
ploughed in. No special manurial crops or plants are grown ;
dvdram (Gassia auriculata), virdli {Dodoncea vucosa,) and kultnji
(wild indigo) are the leaves usually employed. Tf the soil is
alkaline (soudu) more leaves and tank silt are used, and no sweep-
ings or cattle manure. Finally the surface of the field is levelled
by dragging over it a log called the |j«ra,)n6u. The seedlings
are then transplanted by hand. A month afterwards, the crop is
weeded, also by hand. Harvesting and threshing are performed
in the usual manner.

For the kodcti crop the inferior kinds of rice, which only remain its varieties,
on the ground three months after transplantation, are usually
grown. Perhaps the commonest sorts are sen kdr (-red kar ')
and vellai kdr (' white kar ') and a two months' crop known as
anwaddn kodai. When these have been harvested, the kdlam crop,
which ought to have been (but is not always) sown meanwhile in
the seed-beds, is planted out. This usually consists of the six
months' crops known as sirumani{' little grain '), milagu (so called
because it has a round grain like a pepper-corn), and vari garudan
samba (' striped kite-coloured rice ') ; or the five months' varieties
called kambau samba (so named from its resemblance to cambu)
and tillaindyakam, a kind which has boon recently imported from



1.16



MADUEA.



Wet
Cultivation.



CHAP. IV. other districts. Sirvmani and garudan .samba require a great deal
nioro water than the other three, but yield abundantl3\ Kamban
samba fetches a high price, hut the yield is less. This does best
on red soil, while sirumani prefers low-lying black land. A four
months' species called nan'yan ('stunted'), which required less
water, used to be much grown, but since the advent of the Periyar
water it has given way to the choicer kinds. It seems probable
that now that there is an ample and certain supply of irrigation
other still better sorts might be introduced and grown with success.
This matter and the question of economising water would prob-
ably repay investigation. At present the ryots raise the
same stereotyped sorts of paddy and swamp their fields in the
immemorial manner and are generally casual in their methods.
Paddy is commonly raised year after year on the same land
without rotation, though recently the rjots have begun to culti-
vate sugar-cane or plantains every third or fourth year.

The methods of dry cultivation in fashion in Madura differ
little either with the nature of the soil or the kind of crop. It has
already been seen (p. 12) that Tirumangalam is the only taluk
in which any considerable area is covered with any soil except the
red ferruginous sorts. The following statistics of the assessments
per acre of the dry land of the district show how much more
fertile the black land is than the red : —



Dry

Cultivation.



Taluk.


Percentage of assessed dry land which is assessed at


05


CO


1
6


d
1

1

6


6


1—1


06

CO

-I


c£5




Diadigul
Madura
M^liir ...

Palni

Periyakulam ...
Tirumangalam

District Tot .1 ...


-


"' 1

1

30


1

2

"2

4

22


20
23
21
22
25
21


53

50
71
27
36
20


17
16

7
29
20

6


8
8
1
15
11
1


1
1

4
3






5


5


22


42


17


8


1





Methods. Cultivation methods on this black soil differ in one respect

from those adopted on the red. The former requires a thorough
soaking before it will raise a crop and thereafter needs no further
rain ; whereas the latter does not retain moisture well and so
wants frequent showers. Consequently on the black soils the



AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION. ll"?

sowing season may be deferred to as late as October, when the CHAP. IV.
land has received the heavy showers of tlie north-cast rains ; Dry

whereas on the red land it must be begun in July or August ^"^"^""^'''^^'^'-
so that the crops may receive the benefit of both monsoons.^
With this exception, cultivation on both the red and black soils is
conducted in a similar manner. Contrary to the practice in the
Deccan districts, the black soils are manured and irrigated (even
from wells) in the same way as the red.

Except in the fields cultivated under wells in the Palni taluk
by the hard-working Vellalans and those in the cotton country in
south Tirumangalam tilled by the Eeddis, the methods of culti-
vating dry crops seem careless and unenterprising. First, the
stubble of the last crop is ploughed in. Then such manure as is
available is spread. Fields at a distance from the village get
practically no manuring at all, being merely left fallow now and
again to recuperate. Those nearer at hand are given village
sweepings and farm- yard refuse, and sheep and goats are penned
upon them ; but this only occurs once in every two or three years.
Only the fields next the habitations are manured every year.
Land under wells in Falni is treated, of course, with more care.
The cattle are very usually penned at night on these fields and
manure is carted to them from long distances.

The manure having been applied, the land is ploughed three
or fom- times with the usual wooden plough, which is somewhat
bigger than that employed on wet land, Then, as soon as sufficient
rain has fallen, sowing is effected by scattering the seed broadcast
and laboriously ploughing the field again to cover it. Mixed
crops are common. The seeds are mixed before they are sown.
The larger grains, such as dholl, castor and beaus, are dropped
separately one by one in a furrow made by the plough and then
ploughed in separately. When the crop is about a foot high it is
weeded by hand, a small hoe being used. Cholam and cambu are
first thinned with the plough. Neither process is carefully carried
out and the fields are often choked with weeds. The adoption of
the Deccan methods of sowing with a drill, covering the seed with
a scuffle and hoeiug the crop by bullock-power would seem likely to
save much labour, do the work better, and have the additional
advantage of allowing larger areas to be sown at the most favour-
able moment, directly after a heavy shower.

' Elaborate tables of the dates of seed-time and harvest for the vajioua
crops in the different parts of the district will bo found in G.O,, No, 78I, Revcnno,
dated 15th September 1897.



118



MADURA.



CHAP. IV.

Dry

Cultivation.



Cotton.



Cholam is harvested by cutting it off close to the ground and
then removing the ears. The straw is considered the best cattle
fodder available. Cambu is gathsred by cutting off the ears only.
If more rain falls the plants will then send out another crop of
ears. The straw is thought to be bad for cattle and is seldom
given them. Eagi is harvested in the same way, but the straw of
this is regarded as nutritious. Samai and varagu are cut off flush
with the ground. The straw of these is also rarely given to the
cattle. Two crops in a year are raised on some of the best dry
land by growing cambu first and then horse-gram or black gram,
and round Vedasandur in Dindigul by sowing coriander or Bengal
gram as the second crop ; but the practice is not common.

Cholam is said to be an exhausting crop and is not sown twice
running on the same land. It is usually followed by varagu,
samai or horse-gram. Cambu does not do well if put in immedi-
ately after cholam, but otherwise it will flourish for three years in
succession in the same field. Varagu is also an exhausting crop,
and cannot be grown successfully two years running on the same
land unless manure is given it.

Of the cotton of the district, between 80 and 90 per cent.
is grown in the one taluk of Tirumangalam. The methods of
cultivating the plant in the neighbouring taluk of Sattur to
the south are described in much detail in Bulletin No. 19,
Vol. I, of the Madras Department of Land Eecords and Agricul-
ture, and the account there given is applicable to the practice
in Tirumangalam. The crop is usually raised on the black soils,
but the more clayey kinds of red land suit it also. The black
soils are locally divided into four varieties ; namely, karisal
(superior friable), veppal (inferior friable), kahkarai (stiff) and
pottal (alkaline). Kakkarai resembles the deep regada soils of
the Deccan districts, cracking greatly in the dry weather and
requiring a good soaking before it can be ploughed. It is regarded
as inferior to ka7v'sal, which requires little moisture to render it fit
for ploughiug and is so friable that the roots of the cotton penetrate
it easily. A local proverb says ' Sell even wet land to buy karisal.'
Manure is only given once in six or seven years, and is then
generally applied to the crop which follows the cotton, and not to
the cotton itself. This is said to make the cotton crop more even,
and better able to withstand a scarcity of rain. The tillage begins
after the showers of June. Three ploughings are enough on clean
land, but they are carried deeper than usual, a big atone being put
on the plough to keep the share well down. The seed is generally
bought from the dealers. It is sown broadcast from the beginning



AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION. 119

of August onwards and is ploughed in as usual. Before being CHAP. IV.
sown it is rubbed in a paste of cowduug and water and then dried ^»^'

in the sun. This prevents the seeds from sticking together. '_

Cotton is usually raised every other season, cambu or varagu being
grown in the alternate years.

The crop is weeded once with a pointed stick and hoed twice
more afterwards with hand hoc*. It is scarcely ever irrigated.
The first bolls begin to open about three months after sowing and
the first picking begins throe weeks afterwards. The first pickings
give an inferior sample, as they are mainly bolls which havo
opened prematurely owing to the attacks of insects. Similarly the
last pickings are inferior because the lint is leafy and spoiled by
insects. Picking goes on from January to April and then again,
after the May rains, up to August. The cotton is carefully stored
in places where it will be free from damp, either in rooms, in houses,
in circular wattle and daub granaries called pattarai or in circular
bins made of mud and cambu chaff called kulukkai. It is usually
sold uncleaned to middle-men, vho either get it ginned by women
with the ordinary wooden roller-gin or sell it to the steam
ginning-factories in the Tinnevelly district. It then passes to the
presses at Virudupatti or elsewhere or is disposed of to the steam
spinning-mill at Madura. Two varieties are recognised ; the
uppam, which is grown on the best kartsal lands and yields the
better crop, and ndttu, the indigenous variety, which is cultivated
on the inferior soils. But the two are very often found mixed
together. In the market the Tirumangalam cotton is known as
' Tinnevellies.' It is one of the most highly prized of Indian
cottons, being valued for its colour, which is very white. The
staple is not particularly long, but the fibre is strong.

The largest area under tobacco is in Dindigul taluk. Periya- Tobacco,
kulam comes next, and then I 'alni. The plant must be irrigated,
and thrives best in red soils under wells. Either the soil or the
well-water or both must be alkaline, and if they are not so, alkaline
earth is often carted on to the land. The experts are agreed ^ that
the methods of cultivation and of collecting and curing tho leaf
leave a great deal to be desired. The seed is sown in a specially
prepared plot of luu'i and the seedlings arc afterwards transplanted.
The seed-bed is often so carelessly flooded with water that some
of the seeds aro buried too deep while others arc washed out
of the ground, and tho surface of the bed is so caked all over that

^ See Bulletin No. .5-3, vol. iii of the M^cUms Department of Lands Recoids
and Agriculture, and G.O., No. 1063, Revenue, dated 23rd Septo.-nber 1904.



120



MADURA.



CHAP. IV.

Dry

Cultivation.



germination ia checked. The seedling-s are transplanted when the
leaves are three or four inches long-. This is done by flooding the
seed-bed in the early morning, pulling up the plants, putting
them in a covered basket in the shade till the evening, and then
dibbling them in. The land is often made so wet that the
seedlings rot, or these are dibbled in so loosely that they do not
take root properly, or so close together that they damage one
another.

For tobacco growing the field must be deeply ploughed
and well manured. Cowdung is carted on to it and sheep and
cattle are penned on it. The seedlings are watered -every day at
first, and afterwards at longer intervals. The crop is hoed when
it has been about three weeks in the field and after five or six
weeks the soil is broken up with a mamntti. In some villages
liquid manure is applied at this period by tlirowing cowdimg into
the irrigation channels. When the plants are nearly three feet
high they are topped, and this makes the lower leaves increase in
size. The suckers which this topping starts into growth are
seldom sufficiently checked, however, and they weaken the plant
greatly. After about three months the lowest leaves begin to
turn spotted, and the plant is then considered to be ripe and is cut
0&. close to the ground in tho evening. Half the leaves are still
immature and it would probably be better only to pick the ripe
leaves and not cut the whole plant down. The plants are
collected early next morning and made into small circular heaps
with the leaves inwards and the stalks outside. These are covered
with straw and are left untouched for three days. The plants are
then spread out on the ground for a short time and next hung up
on horizontal poles. Every morning they are moved a little to let
the air pass freely through them and at the end of fifteen or
twenty days they are considered to be cured. This drying process
is carelessly managed and some of the leaves rot and the others are
not uniform in colour or dryness. When the leaves are considered
to be dry, the plants are taken down from the horizontal poles
and made into square heaps about two feet high, the stalks being
laid cross-wise over each other in alternate rows. Every two or
three days, these heaps are opened and re-made. The leaves
ferment and change colour, and when a certain blackish tint is
produced the fermentation ia considered to be finished and the
leaves are stripped from the stalk and made up into bundles for
sale. This process really requires most careful watching, to see
that the heat reached is not too great and that the process is not
stopped too soon or carried too far. But the ryot has no thermo-
meter and leaves matters largely to chance,



AQRICULTUBE AND IRRIGATION.



121



The whole sabject of the growth and curing of tobacco is now CHAP. iv.
under the consideration of Government, who are endeavouring to ^^^

procure the assistance of experts to advise as to the directions in '

whicli improvements might bo possible. The manufacture of the
cured leaves into cigars at Dindigul is referred to on p. 149.

The proportion of the cultivated area of the district which Irrigatiox.
is irrigated is higher than the normal for the Presidency. The
statistics say that in ordinary seasons 27 per cent, of it is protected
from famine and in all seasons ne&rly 22 per cent. Details for
the different taluks, and figures showing the percentage of the
wet area in each of these which is irrigated by the various classes
of sources are appended : —



Area
protected.



Taluk.


Percentage of wet area

which is irrigated

respectively by


Perceiitage of total

cultivated area whicli

is protected


CD

§

o

>3

o

S
a

>
o




OD


Other sources.


In ordinary seasons,
lu all seasons.


Dindiijul

Kodaikanal

Madura

M^ldr

Palni

Poriyakulam

Tirumang^alam

District Total ...


11
10
lC-7
10-2
1-6
3-8
01


5-6

"8'-5
8-4
30

3-6
7-9


9-4

0-5
0-5

9-8
4-4
2-4


0-2

i-0

0-1
0-1
0-1


18-5
15-4
49-6
35-2
41-5
24-3
13-7


15-3
15-3

44-7
270
21-4
21-6
131


34-5


370


27-0


1-5


27-2


21-7



It will be seen that the best protectei taluks are Madura and
Mellir, which are served by the great Periydr project referred to
later. Next come Palni, which is chiefly safe-guarded by its
numerous excellent wells, and Perijaknlam, which also benefits
from the Periydr water. At the bottom of the list is Tiruman-
galam, where there are hardly any channels and very few wells.

Though a large proportion of i\T^lijr is now safe from famine,
the quality of the wet land in it is the poorest in the district,
being mostly sandy red soil. This is clearly shown in the figiu'ea

16



122



MADUEA.



CHAP. IV. below, whicli give the percentage of the assessed wet land in each
Irrigation, taluk which is assessed at each of the standard rates : —



Wells.



Taluk.


Percentage of assessed wet land which is
assessed at


d
1

1
00

IB

03


o
1

CO

1


o

1

CO
1

CO
to

M


d

00

1

w


00
CO


d
1

CVS
n

Pi


o

00

1
cq

00


o

1
o

1




Online LibraryMadras (India : State)Madura (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 40)