(Last Updated on : 18/11/2011)
Agriculture in post Mauryan period saw the extension of area of cultivation. The state had less control over the agricultural sector. According to Milindapanha the person who brings the land under use is known as the owner of the land. As per Manu
, land belongs to him who clears it first. The Divyavadana
refers to individual farmers working hard and engaged in agriculture. It is presumed that the private ownership of land was accepted by this time.
Power of gift, sale and mortgage are the requisites of ownership. According to literal evidences there prevailed the right of alienation of land to individuals and a number of inscriptions record gifts of land given by private individuals.
Theoretically the state was the owner of everything situated on earth which shows territorial sovereignty. Lands could be granted by the king to any person or organization.
Initially the administrative rights were first abandoned by the Satavahana ruler Gautamiputra Satakarni. There were few grants that were meant to bring the uncultivated land under cultivation.
State adopted measures at times in order to increase land productivity. Kharavela in Kalinga
extended an old canal and Rudradaman repaired a large lake in Saurashtra. It is believed that the tanks were constructed by Sakas and Kushana chiefs in north-western India.
Those who stole the agricultural tools would be punished by the King. Mutilation is provided for selling false seeds, for taking out seed already sown and for destroying boundary marks. During the rule of Satavahana and Kushana there was a land system called Akshayanivi. A Nasik inscription records the king giving away land according to the akshayanivi.
There has been no reference to middlemen in the agrarian system. No grants of land have been the responsibility of administrative officers. The assignment of land is believed to be the responsibility of revenue officials who are in charge of one, ten, twenty, a hundred, or a thousand villages. Agricultural revenue was collected by the officials with the help of village headmen.
The revenue amount collected varied. The king could take as annual revenue 1/6, 1/8 or 1/12 part of the produce. In ancient India 1/6 of the crops was the rate of taxation for a long time and the king was addressed as sadbhagin. Kara was probably a periodical tax that was imposed on agricultural land. Pratibhaga was a gift consisting of fruits, flowers, roots.