The nature of subsistence economy of megalithic people has attracted the attention of a large number of scholars. Megalithic culture, which formed the agrarian background to emergence of historical places in deltaic Krishna-Godavari region, reveals only occasional occurrences of iron objects.
The rise of urban centres in the lower Krishna is attributed to this agrarian background. In Telengana plateau the excavations generally attest prolific presence of iron implements that were related to increasing craft production.
However, few sites in the plateau like Pochampadu and Peddabankur have also exposed agricultural implements. Because of non-availability of clear-cut patterns, the megalithic economy has been variously characterised as settled agrarian, pastoral nomadic, pastoral and agricultural or semi-sedentary agriculture. It has been suggested by some that this economy was a mixed one with predominance of pastoralism.
In fact, one can visualise different subsistence strategies at work. It was possible that in the early phase pastoralism was dominant and in the later phase irrigated agriculture became more common in the riverine regions and new areas were colonised.
Some scholars have suggested that the megalithic black and red ware tradition witnessed population pressure, which coincided with the shift from highland, pastoral cultivation to deltaic paddy producing plough cultivation in Andhra and South India in the post-5th century BC.