Class 9 Peasants and Farmers NCERT

Topic– 2: Bread Basket and Dust Bowl

I. Very Short Answer Type Questions. [1 Mark]

1. How was the American landscape transformed by early twentieth century?

Ans. White Americans had moved westward and established control up to the west coast, displacing local tribes and carving out the entire landscape into various agricultural belts.

2. How America seemed to be land of promise?

Ans. Seen from the east coast, America seemed to be land of promise. Its wilderness could be turned into cultivated fields. Forest timber could be cut for export, animals hunted for skin, mountains mined for gold and minerals.

3. From the late nineteenth century, there was a dramatic expansion of production of which crop in the USA?

Ans. There was a dramatic expansion of wheat production in the USA.

4. Who said, “plant more wheat will win the war,”?

Ans. US presidents Woodrow Wilson.

5. Introduction of which new technology made the dramatic expansion of wheat possible?

Ans. Tractors, disk ploughs, walking plough, reaper, the scythe, drills, etc.

6. What turned American dream of a land of plenty into a nightmare.

Ans. Dust storms.

II. Short Answer Type Questions. [3 Marks]

1. Discuss the westward expansion of the white settlers in America.

Ans. The story of agrarian expansion is closely connected to the westward movement of the white settlers who took over the land. After the American War of Independence from 1775 to 1783 and the formation of the United States of America, the white Americans began to move westward. By the time Thomas Jefferson became the President of the USA in 1800, over 700,000 white settlers had moved into Appalachian plateau through the passes.

2. ‘Seen from the east coast, America seemed to be the land of promise.’ Explain.

Ans. After the formation of the United States of America, the white Americans began to move westward. By 1800, over seven lakh white settlers had moved on to the Appalachian plateau through the passes. Seen from the east coast, America seemed to be a land of promise, of vast richness. Its wilderness could be turned into cultivated fields to grow crops. Forest timber could be cut for export; animals hunted for skin, rich mines in the mountains could be mined for gold and other precious minerals. To achieve this, the American Indians had to be driven further west.

3. How was the USA converted into a dust bowl from a bread basket? Describe any four reasons.

Ans. (i) The early 1930s were years of persistent drought. The rains failed year after year and temperature soared.

(ii) The wind blew with ferocious speed causing terrible dust storms.

(iii) The entire landscape had been ploughed over, again and again, stripped of all grass that held it together.

(iv) Zealous farmers had recklessly uprooted all vegetation, and tractors had turned the soil cover, and broken the soil into dust. The whole region had turned into a nightmare.

Thus the American dream of plenty had turned into a nightmare.

III. Long Answer Type Questions. [5 Marks]

1. Explain two advantages and two disadvantages of mechanical harvesting machines in the USA.

Ans. Advantages :

(i) In 1831, Cyrus McCormick invented the first mechanical reaper which could cut in one day as much as five men could cut with cradles and 16 men with sickles. With one of the combined harvesters, 500 acres of wheat could be harvested in two weeks.

(ii) The prices of wheat were high and the demand limitless. With power-driven machinery, only four men could plough, seed and harvest 2,000 to 4,000 acres of wheat in a season. This helped landlords to earn more and more profit.

Disadvantages :

(i) For the poorer farmers, machines brought misery. Many of them bought these machines with the loans offered to them. Those who borrowed found it difficult to pay back their debts. Many of them deserted their farms and looked for jobs elsewhere.

(ii) Production had expanded rapidly and there was a huge surplus. Wheat prices fell and export markets collapsed. This led to the Great Agrarian Depression of the 1930s.

2. What were the problems associated with wheat expansion in the USA? Discuss with special reference to mechanisation and ‘dust bowl’.

Ans. In the late 19th century, there was a great expansion of wheat cultivation in the USA. With an increase in population, demand for wheat was rising. The expansion was made possible by new technology. Implements and tools were modified to suit their needs. Now farmers were using tractors and disk ploughs to clear land for cultivation. Mechanical reapers were used to reap and cut harvest. By the early 20th century, combined harvesters were being used to cut grain. Now with power-driven machinery large tracts of land could be ploughed, seeded, harvested within a short time.

But there were problems. Poor farmers were hard hit. They could not buy these machines. The bank offered loans but most and they could not repay these loans. Many of them left their farms in search of a job. In addition, terrifying dust storms began to blow, blinding the people, choking the cattle, covering fields, rivers, and machines with dust. This was because the entire area had been ploughed and stripped of grass whose roots could have bounded the soil.