Arunachal Pradesh Economy

May 12, 2009

By and large, the economy of the state of Arunachal Pradesh is dependent on agriculture. More than half of the state’s one million plus population is engaged in agriculture; however, only a small portion of the total land area is under cultivation. Many of the people still engage in the age-old, traditional practice of jhum, or what is known as shifting agriculture. In jhuming, a patch of a jungle or grassland is cleared either by cutting the existing vegetation or burning them. The patch is then cultivated and harvested for several years, in what is known as the jhum cycle. This is done until the soil loses its fertility. Once the land cannot hold the production of crops, it is left in favor of another, more fertile patch and the cycle starts again. This system of agriculture is often practiced by family units although whole tribes may engage in it as well. In recent years, however, the practice of jhum has been lessened all over Arunachal Pradesh in favor of modern methods of farming; those who still engage in jhum are the hill people, who cultivate and farm on the slopes and hills. Among the chief crops grown are rice, maize, millet and buckwheat. There are also indigenous vegetables that are being exported to neighboring districts and states and make up the major commercial crops. These include sweet potatoes, oilseeds, ginger, pumpkin, chili and the local cowpea.

Forest products were also among the most significant sectors of the state’s economy. This is logical since Arunachal Pradesh has close to about 61,000 square kilometers of forests, so logging and forestry contribute much to the gross state product. However, this has declined starting the in the 1970s, when environmental legislation were implemented. Since the turn of the 21st century, forest-related activities have been confined to just a few local industries, which are mostly small or medium sized. Most of these industries are rice mills, handloom crafts and fruit preservation units. There are also sawmills and plywood mills although these are stated as illegal by the state government.

The state also has various resources at its disposal although these have been largely unutilized until recently. The mineral resources found in Arunachal Pradesh include marble, clay, graphite and pyrite. Dolomite, limestone and quartzite can be mined there as well. In 1991, the Arunachal Pradesh Mineral Development and Trading Corporation Limited was set up; the Namchik-Namphuk coal fields are under the corporation’s control. Another natural resource that the state government is using to its full capacity is hydroelectricity; Arunachal Pradesh accounts for a significant portion of India’s untapped hydroelectric power production potential. This led to the state government to sign deals with various Indian companies in 2008 for 42 hydroelectric schemes which, upon completion, will produce more than 27,000 megawatts of electricity. The construction of the Upper Siang Hydroelectric Project started in April 2009. It is estimated that this will generate between 10,000 to 12,000 megawatts of power.


Comments are closed.