AGRICUL TURE 127
Hindus form nearly 84 per cent. of the total and Muhammadans
16 per cent. The District is densely populated, and supplies a con-
siderable number of emigrants to the West Indies and to Eastern
Bengal and Assam. During the last decade it probably gained by
immigration from the more distressed Districts south of the Gogra.
Almost the whole population speak BiharI.
The most numerous Hindu castes are: Chamars (leather-workers
and cultivators), 278,000; Brahmans, I95,000; Ahirs (graziers and
cultivators), 185,000; Kurmis (agriculturists), 148,000ooo Banias, 52,000;
Rajputs, 50,000; Kahars (domestic servants and cultivators), 48,000;
and Kewats (cultivators), 40,000. The aboriginal Bhars, who once
held the land, are now depressed and number only 50,ooo. Among
Musalmans may be mentioned Shaikhs, 50,000; Julahas (weavers),
43,000; Pathans, 34,000; and Rajputs, 34,000. Agriculture supports
66 per cent. of the total population, and general labour 9 per
cent. Brahmans and Rajputs or Chhattris hold about two-thirds of
the land, and Brahmans occupy a larger area than any other caste.
Rajputs, Ahirs, Kurmis, and Chamars are also large cultivators, while
the Koiris are noted for their skill.
There were only 53 native Christians in I90o, of whom 24 belonged
to the Anglican communion. The Church Missionary Society has
a high school at Basti, and there is also a Zanana mission.
The climate and soil are suitable for the growth of nearly all the
more valuable products, and the comparatively heavy rainfall is
especially favourable to rice. Wheat and poppy do Arict
best in the lighter loams, and are accordingly grown
between the Rapti and Gogra. North of the Rapti late rice is the
principal crop. In the inferior light soils barley takes the place of
wheat, and kodon of rice. There is a tract of peculiar calcareous soil,
known as bhdt, along both banks of the Rapti, which is very retentive
of moisture and produces good crops without irrigation. In the bed
of the Gogra strips of alluvial soil are liable to flooding in the rains,
but are cultivated for the spring harvest.
About one-third of the District is included in zanmindari mahid/s,
and two-thirds in pattidari, the area of bhai'chadra mahals being very
small. A great many under-proprietors are found, called birtias. One
class of birt is peculiar to the District, having been originally granted
to a military colony of Rajputs or Chhattris who were settled on the
border as guardians against invasion. The main agricultural statistics
for I903-4 are given in the table on next page, in square miles.
Rice is the crop most largely grown, covering I,ooo square miles, or
50 per cent. of the net cultivated area, in 1903-4. The other food-crops
of importance are wheat (377 square miles), peas and masur (325),
gram (237), barley (208), and arhar (I85). The most valuable