Cattle-raising was once the principal industry in the interior, but has been almost extinguished by the devastating droughts and increasing aridity caused by the custom of annually burning over the campos to improve the grass.
In tropical countries drought is the commonest cause of a failure in the harvest, and where great droughts are not uncommon - as in parts of India and Australia - the hydraulic engineer comes to the rescue by devising systems of water-storage and irrigation.
The most destructive droughts recorded are those of 1711, 172 3, 1777-1778, 1790, 1825, 1844-1845, and 1877-1878, the last-mentioned destroying nearly all the live-stock in the state, and causing the death through starvation and pestilence of nearly half-a-million people, or over half the population.
The crop is very uncertain owing to droughts; spring frosts and locusts, and, ' in order to avoid a total failure and to allow time for collecting the produce, there are three sowings at intervals from October to March - the crops thus coming to perfection in succession.
Mahratta invasions from central India, piratical devastations on the sea-board, banditti who marched about the interior in bodies of 50,000 men, floods which drowned the harvests of whole districts, and droughts in which a third of the population starved to death, kept alive a sense of human powerlessness in the presence of an omnipotent fate.