Assam is identified for its aromatic tea gardens and as expected, tea is the major source of revenue to this state. Like most of the north-eastern states of India, the economy of Assam is mainly agrarian. About 69% of the state’s population is engaged in agricultural activities. Moreover, it represents a distinctive concurrence of backwardness along with abundance. Since independence, the state’s income rate has not kept pace with that of the country. However, recent analysis proves that the economy is improving and growth has been observed in manufacturing and tertiary sectors.
Agriculture is the chief business of most of the state’s population. In conjunction with generous rainfall and fertile land, cultivation is most suitable means of livelihood. Both food crops and staples are grown in profusion. Major food crops, grown here, are rice, pulses, jute, tea, fruits, sugarcane, potatoes, cotton, oil seeds, coconut, and areca nuts. Assam is the major producer of tea and contributes a significant amount of 50% to the country’s total production.
It produces some of the finest and expensive teas of the world. The state also produces considerable amounts of rapeseed, mustard, jute, potato, sweet potato, banana, papaya, and turmeric. It also turns out a range of citrus fruits, leaf vegetables, vegetables, useful grasses, herbs, spices, etc. Though productivity has increased slightly, it is still lower if compared with highly productive regions. Agriculture is yet to undergo upgradation in Assam.
The industries that play a major role to earn the state’s revenue are of tea processing and petroleum refineries. The industrial development in Assam is mainly repressed by the state’s physical and political isolation. Assam is a landlocked state in the eastern periphery of India. It has connected to the mainland by narrow corridor, which is prone to floods and cyclones. Moreover, poor transportation infrastructure is another reason for its curtailment. Since Assam is a major producer of crude oil and natural gas in India, several oilfields are found in its upper region.
It has four oil refineries at Guwahati, Digboi, Numaligarh and Bongaigaon, respectively. Assam also has a chemical fertilizer plant at Namrup, petrochemical industries at Namrup and Bongaigaon, paper mills at Jagiroad, Panchgram and Jogighopa, sugar mills at Barua Bamun Gaon, Chargola, Kampur, cement plant at Bokajan, and cosmetics plant (HLL) at Doom Dooma, etc. Some other industries found here are jute mill, textile and yarn mills, silk mill, etc. Sadly numerous industries are confronting loss because of poor infrastructure.
In the mining sector of Assam, the four main industrial minerals are coal, oil and gas, limestone, and sillimanite. Petroleum mining is an important feature of the state’s economy and is regulated by the Oil India Limited and the Assam Oil Company. Besides these major minerals, other minerals such as gravel, sand, building stone, and ballast are also generated. The economy of Assam gets good returns from the economic minerals found in different parts of the state, like clay, iron ore, copper, feldspar, gold, and gypsum.
Another important contributor to the economy of Assam is forests. The forest products like timber and bamboo fetch great revenue to the state. A large variety of citrus fruits produced in the forests are big hit in the markets. However, the main profit-making product is tea. Tea plantation offers employment to more than a million people in the state. The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre is the largest center of CTC Tea in the world.