|Potential Sectors of Investment|
|Mines & Minerals|
|Plastics and Polymers|
|IT & ITES|
|Aromatic and Medicinal Produce|
|Horticulture & Floriculture|
|Fresh Water Processing|
An agrarian economy since time immemorial, about 77% of Assam's workforce is engaged agriculture and allied activities contributing roughly 40% to the state's GDP. Roughly 40% of the total area is cultivated.
A vast majority of our farmers in Assam is still saddled with a single crop i.e. a long duration 'Sali' paddy cultivation and after harvesting the agricultural fields in Assam remains idle for the rest of the year. As such, a massive thrust has to be put in the agriculture sector for inducing short duration high yielding variety of multi cropping in the same field in a year so that the average income of a farmer's household can be multiplied. Naturally, income multiplication in rural area would create massive demand for various goods and economic services and resultant investment would in turn create employment opportunities. Income multiplication in rural area has got direct bearing on investment opportunities in our state.
Assam has the highest concentration of bamboo having high potential for commercialization. Bamboo is the best natural engineering material on this planet. India's 64% and world's 20% growing stock of bamboo grows in NE India. North east annually harvests bamboo worth of 500 billion rupees. Consumption of wood is rising at 10% per annum in India. As a substitute for timber, it can be extensively used as a material for building, scaffolding and furniture beside this serve as a raw material for host of industrial uses. Therefore bamboo processing and various value additions would throw up new opportunities. There are also substantial areas under homestead cultivations and commercial cultivation is taking place.
Assam tea grown at sea level, is known for its body, briskness, malty flavour and strong bright color. Though Assam tea generally indicates the distinctive black teas from Assam, the region also produces relatively smaller quantities of green and white tea as well with their own distinctive characteristics. Here, tea is grown both in the Brahmaputra and Barak plains. Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon and Sonitpur are the districts where tea gardens are mostly found.
Assam is the world's single largest tea growing region. At present Assam produces about 55% of the country's total tea production and about 1/6th of the tea produced in the world. In 1970, the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre was established for better marketing of the tea produced in the region. This is the world's largest CTC tea auction centre and the world's second largest in terms of total tea. It now auctions more than 150 million kg of tea valued at more than Rs. 550.00 crores annually.
The economic realization of the importance of tea in Assam is a foregone conclusion. Along with the organized sector the proliferation of small tea cultivation in Assam has created vast employment opportunities in the rural areas giving economic impetus as well as employment generation.
The Government of India has created a Special Purpose Tea Fund (SPTF) which is meant for rejuvenation of tea bushes. This will benefit about 700-800 tea gardens of the state. In an important policy decision - the Government has decided to secure a geographical indication for the tea produced in the state. 'Assam Tea' will be known as 'Assam Orthodox Tea' once the geographical indication is secured, thus making it an exclusive commodity and raising its stakes in the global market.
Assam's soil condition is particularly suitable for growing Sanchi plant or Agar wood. The Agar wood oil of Assam enjoys international brand equity. Particular state or region must have a mission for socio-economic development of the people utilizing its endemic potential resources as we have in Assam. Agar wood or Aquilaria Agollocha has been identified as the most potential species of wood which can generate large scale income and employment for the people of the state. It is noteworthy that today Assam's Reserved Forests do not have Agar trees. Therefore, unnecessary restriction on growing Agar trees in private land and homesteads should be done away with. As Agar wood can grow abundantly and regeneration of this plant in Assam is very easy because of very special climate and soil condition in our state the restriction by Forest Department describing Agar wood as one of the endangered species need to be reviewed. The extractions of aromatic oil from Agar wood and trade of Agar oil / derivatives can be regulated in the entire state for curbing any illegal trade so that optimum returns are forthcoming to the people of Assam. The new Industrial Policy would like to recognize Agar wood plantation in private homesteads and land and its processing industry as a very important potential for Assam's economic development. The Industry Department will frame rules for legalized Agar wood aromatic oil industry in Assam.
Assam was the market leader till 1996 producing almost 80% of India's total plywood but now it is producing only 5% to 8% of India's plywood due to the ban on cutting trees. Plywood is made from fast growing poplar trees (Populus ciliate) which can be naturally be grown in the region in forest area due to its suitable soil and climatic conditions. Plywood industry can be rejuvenated in Assam and it is a very potential sector for income and employment generation in the state.
The Investment and industrial policy 2008 of Assam suggest that all wood based industries should be located within the approved Industrial Estates and these industries would be encouraged to raise their own captive plantation or alternatively try to procure raw materials from Joint Forest Management Community Forestry or private plantation like Haryana. Wood based industries will be encouraged to raise their plantation for the raw materials for meeting their requirement or support individually/ communities to grow the raw materials with inputs including credit, technical advice, harvesting and transport services. Farmer's particularly small and marginal farmers would be encouraged to grow fast growing trees on marginal/ degraded land available with them. Government would also encourage import of wood for wood based industries with suitable fiscal incentives.