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Chapter Summary

Modern research on nineteenth-century agricultural issues has focussed mostly on the plantation sector. This chapter examines the state of and the changes in the traditional agricultural system of Ceylon in the late nineteenth century. The majority of the Sinhalese and the Ceylon Tamils in nineteenthcentury Ceylon earned their living from agricultural occupations-be it as cultivators or as agricultural labourers. Together with the government restriction on chena cultivation, the resulting want of ready cash pushed many Sinhalese peasants into plantation wage labour. The origins of the Paddy Tax can be traced back to the time of the Sinhalese kings. The commutation in money contributed substantially to the arrival of the money economy even in the remotest Sinhalese villages. The reassessments in the Uva Province were triggered by the report of Government Agent Fisher on the "Sale of Paddy Lands for Arrears of Tax in the Udukinda Division, Province of Uva".

Keywords:agricultural labourers; Ceylon; chena cultivation; Fisher; Paddy Tax; plantation; Sinhalese; Uva Province



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