Agro-Economy in the Hills of Manipur: An Interplay of Peasants, Middlemen and Markets

By Hoineilhing Sitlhou

The paper examines a peasant society’s interface with modernization, essentially the penetration of capitalist relations of production in the hills of Manipur. The space for labour has changed and has become commoditized. It is no longer the bonds of kinship, operative through families of clans and kindred, which govern production and distribution. Though there are a sizable population of rural poor, mostly landless labourers, who are dependent on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, the introduction of peasants to commercial market economy have made them a vulnerable prey of the middlemen who exploit them in the business transactions. The outcome is the ensuing dwindling interest of the peasants in agriculture production as it is no longer considered to be a productive enterprise. This is despite the fact that they have no alternative vocation or source of livelihood or resource capital to fall back on. The study concludes that the peasants need to be encouraged by the state keeping in mind their important contribution to the state’s economy and subsistence.

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