Indigo cultivation in India
Indigo (Neel) is a blue dye which comes from the Indigo plant. It was widely grown in India firstly for the East India Company and later for the British Raj. In the nineteenth century, it was one of the most profitable commodities traded in the European market often called “Blue Gold”.
There was a significant increase in the Indigo production in the 18th and 19th century in Bengal and Bihar due to increasing demand and production. Though the revolts of farmers and oppressive zamindari system had some negative impact on indigo farming, a major reason for its falling cultivation was the invention of Synthetic indigo, which made natural indigo non-profitable for farmers as well as traders.
Synthetic indigo was the result of continuous research and development in the western indigo industry. It acquired a significant place in the market in the mid of nineteenth century. The English business enterprise dealing in natural indigo found very tough to survive in the market. The quantity and value of natural indigo were started declining in the last decade of the 19th century and the situation became worse in the 1st decade of the 20th century.