Economy of Assam
Economy of Assam today represents a unique juxtaposition of backwardness amidst plenty. Growth rate of Assam’s income has not kept pace with that of India’s during the Post-British Era; differences increased rapidly since 1970s. While the Indian economy grew at 6 percent per annum over the period of 1981 to 2000, the same of Assam’s grew only by 3.3 percent.
In the Sixth Plan period Assam experienced a negative growth rate of 3.78 percent against a growth rate of 6 percent of India’s. In the post-liberalised era (after 1991), the gaps between growth rates of Assam’s and India’s economy widened further.
In the current decade, according to recent analysis, Assam’s economy is showing signs of improvement. In the year 2001-2002, the economy grew in 1993-94 constant prices at 4.5 percent, falling to 3.4 percent in the next financial year. During 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, in the same constant prices, the economy grew more satisfactorily at 5.5 and 5.3 percent respectively. The advanced estimates placed the growth rate for the year 2005-2006 at above 6 percent.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people and along with the allied occupations it accounts for 63 percent of the states work force. Rice is the staple diet of the people and cultivation of rice is the main occupation of those engaged in agriculture.
Different pulses, jute, tea and fruit cultivation are the other agricultural crops. Sugarcane, potatoes, cotton, oil seeds, coconut and arecanut cultivation is also practiced on a substantial scale apart from the horticulture.
But 67 percent of the gross cropped area is taken up by rice cultivation, of this about 67 percent again is taken up for the cultivation of Sali paddy on about 16-17 lakh hectares of land. Both the centre and the state are engaged in giving agriculture a big thrust and a second green revolution is to be brought about in the north east.
Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation, under which the tribal farmers burn selected areas of forest land and use it for cultivation in a cyclic period, is a problem in Assam. Confined to its two hill districts which are inhabited by tribal people, efforts are being constantly made to wean the people away from this rather expensive form of cultivation.