BANKING TRADE AND COMMERCE
The chief items of export trade at present are cotton, sugar, gul and bajri. The relevant extracts about exports from the former edition of the Ahmadnagar Gazetteer are given below and are followed by the present position of export trade in the district: -
"The chief exports are bajri, jvari, wheat, gram, gingelly seed,
linseed, safflower, earth-nuts, hemp, raw sugar or gul, clarified butter,
oil, cotton, country cloth, drinking and cooking vessels, horns, bides,
barks and other dyes, and small quantities of chillies of an estimated
total value of about £ 3,50,000 (Rs. 35,00,000). Most of them find
their way to Bombay and Poona. Besides being exported, bajri, javari, and gram are imported in large quantities. Wheat, the produce
of the late harvest, is sent chiefly from the north of the district.
The grain trade, which is the chief trade of the district, is carried
on by local dealers and money-lenders, chiefly Marwar and Gujarat
Vanis and a few Brahmans and Kunbis. Especially since the opening
of the Dhond-Manmad railway much grain is imported from Jabalpur
and Nagpur in the north, and from Belari in the south. Since these
markets have become available the grain-dealers have given up
the old practice of storing grain in pits or pevs. The change in the
trade is said to have greatly reduced the profits of the grain-dealers.
Oil-seeds such as gingelly seed and linseed, are largely exported
to Bombay for the European market. Safflower or karadai oil, used
for burning as well as instead of clarified butter, is sent in large
quantities to Poona, Bombay, and Gujarat, and also to Europe.
The oil-cake is also sent all over the district as food for cattle.
Cotton: Cotton, though little is grown locally, forms the chief export of the district. Before 1850 there was no cultivation and scarcely any trade in cotton. In 1850 a small trader named Lakhamsi Punja started the practice of advancing cotton-seed to the husbandmen. The first yield was about 1,200 pounds or five bojas. From this time cotton cultivation spread. Bombay merchants began to visit the district and a cotton market was started at Ahmadnagar, to which cotton came from long distances. During the American war (1862-65) Ahmadnagar exported 50,000 bundles or bojas equal to
about 3,400 full-pressed 400-pound bales a year. After some years of depression the trade again revived, and during the three years ending 1879 the average exports rose to 60,000 bundles that is about 40,000 full-pressed bales. Of these about two-thirds or 40,000 bundles came from the Nizam's country. The cotton-dealers, who are Marwar and Gujarat Vanis, advance money to the land-holders and buy their crops often before they are ready for picking. They pack it in bundles or dokdas of about 120 pounds (60 shers), and send it to their agents in Ahmadnagar, of whom there are about twenty, all Marwar Vanis by caste. From these agents the cotton-dealers receive advances and draw bills or hundis to the extent of seventy or eighty per cent of the value of the cotton. After the cotton has come, the Ahmadnagar agents sell it to Bombay merchants who generally send their clerks or gumastas to buy for them. The Stewart cotton-market at Ahmadnagar, which was completed in 1878, has been of much service to the cotton trade by providing at a very low rental safe and clean storage for cotton close to the railway station and the cotton presses. [The market is called after Mr. Theodore Stewart of the Bombay Civil Service by whom it was started.] During the four years ending 1883-84, 2,67,900 bojas or on an average 66,975 bojas or 1,33,950 dokdas of 120 pounds each were brought to the market. Of these about a third was received from the Ahmadnagar district and two-thirds from the Nizam's territory. The cotton brought by the agents of the Bombay firms is either offered for sale in Bombay or is pressed and shipped to Europe. Before the opening of the Dhond and Sholapur stations on the south-east section of the Peninsula railway, cotton went in bullock-carts to Panvel, and from Panvel in cotton boats to Bombay. After the opening of the Dhond and Sholapur stations special arrangements were made with the company to carry Ahmadnagar cotton to Bombay at reduced rates and to allow a drawback on the whole quantity booked if it exceeded a certain amount. Inspite of this concession the agents found it cheaper to send their cotton by Panvel. Since the opening of the Dhond-Manmad railway the whole cost of carriage has been so much reduced that carts are no longer able to compete with the railway and almost the whole of the cotton now goes by rail to Bombay. Three cotton presses were opened in Ahmadnagar in 1879 by Bombay firms. Two of them buy cotton on their own account
and send it pressed to Bombay............ The cotton season opens
after the Divali holidays in October-November when the merchants begin to sell their old stock. The new cotton begins to come in about January and the season lasts till July.
The export next in importance to cotton is country cloth. The
women's robes or sadis and lugdas, the men's waist-cloths or dhotars, and the turbans woven in Ahmadnagar have a good name for strength and cheapness and go in large quantities to Bombay, Poona, and the neighbouring districts and to the Nizam's country. " [Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Ahmadnagar District, 1884, pp. 343-44.]
Cotton is produced in almost all the talukas and is a major commercial crop in the district. The district had 25,666 hectares of land under cotton cultivation in 1965-66. The largest area under cotton is in Shevgaon taluka measuring 8,425 hectares followed by Pathardi, Nevasa and Rahuri talukas. The total turn-over of cotton trade handled at all the ten regulated markets in the district in the year 1968-69 was to the tune of 1,80,036 tonnes valued at Rs. 3,04,73,169. The varieties of cotton produced and exported from this district are 1007, L/147 and H-4 which are long staple varieties. A large part of the production of cotton is exported to the distant markets, such as Bombay, Ahmadabad and Sholapur. As there are ginning and pressing factories in the district, cotton is exported after it is ginned and pressed. The transactions in raw cotton are regulated under the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act of 1963. The sale and purchase of cotton are controlled by the market committees. The cotton is brought for sale on the market yard, and after completion of transactions the produce is transported to the ginning and pressing factories for weighment. Sometimes the cotton from nearby areas is also brought in the district for ginning and pressing. The bulk of the cargo is transported by railway as well as by road.
The transactions are mainly on cash basis, though forward transactions are by no means small. The prices of raw cotton fluctuate as per the price fluctuations at Bombay. Government regulations regarding inter-district and inter-regional movement of cotton affect the demand as well as prices of cotton.
Sugar and Gul: The other important commodities to be exported are gul and sugar. The district stands first in Maharashtra in the export of sugar. As there are a number of co-operative and private sugar factories in the district a large amount of sugar and gul is exported to Bombay, Pune as also outside the State of Maharashtra, after meeting the local demand. With the availability of irrigation facilities, large area is brought under, sugarcane cultivation. On an average sugarcane is cultivated in 39,000 hectares of land every year. The largest area under sugar-cane is in Shrirampur taluka measuring 14,708 hectares followed by Kopargaon and Rahuri talukas. The turnover of gul handled at the regulated markets was 1,28,397 tonnes valued at Rs. 1,26,27,356 in the year 1968-69.
Foodgrains: Ahmadnagar district is not a surplus district in regard
to the export of food-grains. Sometimes the district has to import the food-grains from outside to meet the local demand. But even then the export of some articles of food-grains still takes place. The chief items of exports are bajari, jowar, molasses, hides, chillis, etc. Most of the exports are destined to Bombay and Pune. Molasses is purchased from the sugar factories not only for the distilleries in the State but is also exported to Rajasthan, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. The entire quantity of linters is exported to Bombay. A substantial quantity of sesamum is exported to the districts of Jalgaon, Dhulia and Bombay.
Agricultural produce is mainly collected from the producers at trading centres. The area under food-grains was 10,69,765 hectares, and that under cereals 9,63,364 hectares in the year 1965-66 including 38,345 hectares under wheat and 5,73,096 hectares under jowar. The total turn-over of trade in bajari handled at all the regulated markets was 1,30,447 quintals, valued at Rs. 1,01,77,032, while the turn-over of wheat at all the markets was to the tune of 1,08,948 quintals, valued at Rs. 80,51,718 in the year 1968-69. There is a monopoly procurement of jowar [Refer to the section on State Trading and Fair Price Shops given in this chapter.] undertaken by the Government since 1964-65. The total turn-over of jowar handled at eight regulated markets which exclude Jamkhed and Nevasa, was 83,949 quintals valued at Rs. 76,36,499 in 1968-69. The important food-grain markets in the district are Ahmadnagar, Kopargaon, Shrirampur, Sangamner, Pathardi, Jamkhed and Nevasa all of which are regulated under the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act of 1963 and are supervised by separate market committees. [For details refer to the section on Regulated Markets in this chapter.]