Why were ryots reluctant to grow indigo?
Under the ryoti system, the indigo planters forced the ryots to sign an agreement or contract. At times, the village headmen signed the contract on behalf of the ryots. Those who signed the contract got cash advances at low rates of interest to produce indigo. The loan committed the ryot to cultivate indigo on at least 25 per cent of the area under his holding. On delivering the crop to the planter, the ryot was given a new loan, and the cycle started again.
The peasants realised that this system of growing indigo was in fact quite oppressive. The price that they got from the planters for the indigo was very low. The loans, though tempting at first, were part of a vicious cycle from which they could not escape. The planters insisted that the peasants cultivate indigo on the most fertile parts of their land, but the peasants preferred growing rice on the best soils. The reason for not wanting to grow indigo was that indigo, with its deep roots, exhausted the soil rapidly. So, after an indigo harvest, the land could not be used for sowing rice.