Q. 145.0( 2 Votes )

How were the unwilling cultivators made to produce Opium?

Answer :

Unwilling cultivators were made to produce opium through a system of advances. In the rural areas of Bengal and Bihar, there were large numbers of poor peasants. They never had enough to survive. It was difficult for them to pay rent to the landlord or to buy food and clothing. From the 1780s, such peasants found their village headmen (mahato) giving them money advances to produce opium. When offered a loan, the cultivators were tempted to accept, hoping to meet their immediate needs and pay back the loan at a later stage. But the loan tied the peasant to the headman and through him to the government. It was the government opium agents who were advancing the money to the headmen, who in turn gave it to the cultivators. By taking the 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. He had no option of planting the field with a crop of his choice or of selling his produce to anyone but the government agent. And he had to accept the low price offered for the produce.

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