Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Patna Rice: Gem of Nineteenth Century Trade in Patna

Well into the late nineteenth century Patna remained one of the premier entrepôts of north India. Registered "internal trade" figures, which generally underestimated interdistrict trade, such as that between Gaya and Patna, in fact reveal that Patna had the largest trade of any district in Bengal. In 1876-77, registered exports were valued at Rs. 36,222,400, or 11.1 times the value of goods sent out in the 1810s; total imports were estimated at Rs. 44,651,000, or 6.8 times the 1810s value. This trend accords perfectly with the now well-established pattern of increasing trade in the late nineteenth century, particularly of certain kinds of medium- and low-value agricultural goods. From nearby districts flowed grains of all sorts, appearing as both exports and imports because they were transferred in and out of the city. Rice came from Purnia, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, and Saran; high-quality Patna rice, "celebrated throughout Bengal for its fineness," was sent out to Murshidabad and Calcutta as well as to Banaras.

Mughal Emperor Akbar and Patna Rice

Mughal emperor Akbar (جلال الدین محمد اکبر) came to Patna in 1574 to crush the Afghan Chief Daud Khan. Akbar's Secretary of State and author of Ain-i-Akbari refers to Patna as a flourishing centre for paper, stone and glass industries. He also refers to the high quality of numerous strains of rice grown in Patna famous as Patna rice in Europe and America.