How Maharaja Vijaysinhji improved the quality of cotton in Rajpipla State, bringing prosperity to farmers

Maharaja Shri Vijaysinhji ruled Rajpipla State from 1915 till merger with the Indian Union in 1948.

Rajpipla was an essentially agricultural State. The cultivation of cotton on a large scale and improvement of its staple brought prosperity to cultivators. Until about the year 1919 the cotton grown was of the inferior Goghari variety, the result being that the cultivators could not get an adequate return for their produce. In order to improve their lot, Maharaja Vijaysinhji introduced in the year 1919-20, legislation prohibiting people from sowing Goghari and other inferior varieties and making it obligatory on them to sow the long-stapled variety of cotton known as ‘1027 A.I.F’.

Every year the State, through expert agencies, selected the best seed of this kind and distributed it to the cultivators. The results and the consequent profits to the farmers were outstanding. Whereas in the former years the Rajpipla cotton fetched prices 30 to 40 rupees per candy below Broach (Bharuch) cotton, it now began fetching 50 to 80 rupees more than Broach, and was in the same class as, and compared most favourably with, the Navsari cotton, which was the best grown Indian cotton.

Another great advantage to the cultivators was that, whereas in the past they had to go 40 to 50 miles, and in many cases more, away from their homes into the British districts to sell their cotton, they now, through the introduction of this measure and the success it achieved, found a ready market at their own doors. There was such a great demand for the superior variety of cotton that it readily sold out, even in those days of trade depression, to outside the merchants who flocked there during the cotton season.

The popularity and success of this measure could be judged from the fact that the area under cotton cultivation, which was somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 thousand acres before the year 1919, increased by leaps and bounds, and was in the 1930s in the vicinity of 1,40,000 acres, and remained at that figure even in the times of trade depression, which affected cotton more than any other commodity.

This activity in cotton had a most wholesome effect on trade and industry generally in Rajpipla State. Whereas before the introduction of long-stapled cotton, there were only two ginning factories and no cotton press, there were now eleven ginning factories and three cotton presses, all working at a considerable profit to their owners. Encouraged by these good results, the starting of a spinning and weaving mill in the State was contemplated and there were offers from several companies to launch a project.

(Source: The Illustrated Weekly Coronation Supplement 1937).

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