Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The food grain held in highest esteem is rice, cultivated intensively in the Krishna and Godavari deltas as well as extensively throughout other parts of the coastal zone and in scattered parts of the interior. Away from streams irrigation is by reservoirs known as tanks. These are formed with earthen dams that hold rainwater in the wet season. Other food grains, grown on nonirrigated lands, are also important. Mung beans, lima beans, and black-eyed peas are widely cultivated, as are sesame seeds and peanuts for oil. Popular garden vegetables, grown for home use and for sale, include tomatoes, eggplants, onions, garlic, chilies, bitter gourds, pumpkins, okra, yams, ginger, and corn. Widely grown fruits include mangoes, tamarinds, guavas, bananas, coconuts, custard apples, sapodillas, limes, toddy-palm (palmyra, Borassus flabellifer ), cashews, and pineapples. Turmeric root is also cultivated, as is mustard, fenugreek, coriander, and fennel. In addition to rice, important commercial crops are sugarcane, tobacco, and cotton. Chilies are cultivated throughout the state for sale. Fishing is important along the coast as well as in inland tanks.
Cultivation is mainly unmechanized, except for gasoline-powered pumps used by wealthier farmers to aid irrigation. Bullocks or water buffalo are used to pull wooden plows reinforced with iron tips. Crops are harvested by hand.
In addition to cattle and water buffalo—which are used not for meat but for dairy products—numerous other Domestic animals are raised. These include chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, sheep, and pigs. Dogs are kept by some villagers for hunting.
Industrial Arts. Telugu society with its Hindu caste System has a highly developed tradition of family transmission of manufacturing and food-processing skills. Among these are blacksmithing, carpentry, goldsmithing, cotton and silk weaving, basket making, pottery, and oil pressing. Many villagers weave their own baskets, make their own rope from palm fiber, and thatch their own roofs.
Trade. Village markets selling fresh vegetables, meat, spices, cloth, and bangles are typically held one day each week. Generally one particularly large weekly market on a main bus route serves as a magnet for an entire rural region. Women of farmer castes often bring produce from their Families' farms, and their husbands engage in petty trading, offering chickens for sale. Potters and sellers of bangles and clothing also offer their wares. Professional merchant castes maintain small provision stores, which are open daily in the villages.
Division of Labor. To a great extent, women's time is taken up with child rearing and food preparation. However, among the middle and lower castes women engage in strenuous physical agricultural labor such as transplanting rice shoots and harvesting. In towns, women work on construction sites, carrying heavy baskets with cement or bricks or breaking rocks. But among the higher castes there are restrictions on women going out of their homes or even appearing in public unescorted.
In Telugu society labor is most strikingly divided by caste. Castes are economically interdependent endogamous groups often associated with particular occupations or crafts—barbering, washing, and oil pressing, for instance.
Land Tenure. Land is held by households and passes patrilineally along the male line, in equal shares between brothers. Land is not owned by all families but rather held mainly by members of farmer castes, as well as by members of higher castes who employ lower castes to cultivate it. Food is traditionally distributed throughout the rural population via Exchange of grain or cash for services. Landless lower-caste members of society who cannot support themselves in the Village economy frequently migrate to urban areas to work for wages. They then usually maintain ties with their home village.