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Economy of Mizoram


            In terms of economic development, Mizoram has lagged behind in comparison to the rest of the country. Cottage industry and other small-scale industries play an important role in its current economy. The people of Mizoram have not taken a keen responsibility for the development of industry due to lack of market raw materials. The industry is wanting but lately there is a much wider chance for the development of forest products. The 9th Five Year Plan (19972002) gives much priority to the "agro-based industry" as nearly 70% of the population is engaged in agriculture.

Bamboo
30% of Mizoram is covered with wild bamboo forests, many of which are largely unexploited. In spite of that, Mizoram harvests 40% of India's 80 million-ton annual bamboo crop. The current state administration wishes to increase revenue streams from bamboo and aside from uses as a substitute for timber, there is research underway to utilize bamboo more widely such as using bamboo chippings for paper mills, bamboo charcoal for fuel, and a type of "bamboo vinegar" which was introduced by Japanese Scientist Mr. Hitoshi Yokota, and used as a fertilizer.


Bamboo harvests, rats and famine
Many of the plans that the administration had were disrupted with the advent of the flowering season for bamboo in May 2006, an event which takes place once every forty or so years.

"After the bamboo flowers, it dies and is finished," current Chief Minister Pu Zoramthanga said in an interview to Reuters in May 2006. "Unless we harvest it, we are going to waste billions and billions of rupees. We have to make roads into the jungle and harvest it as soon as possible." He admitted it will only be possible to harvest five percent of the bamboo before it flowers.

The flowering of the bamboo leads to a dramatic increase in the local rat population; some experts believe that the flower has an effect on rat fertility. In a process locally known as Mautam the increase in rodent population following the flowering led to raids on granaries and the destruction of paddy fields.

Records from the British Raj indicate that Mizoram suffered famine in 1862 and again in 1911 after the region witnessed similar bamboo flowerings. The last Mautam, in 1958-59, resulted in the recorded deaths of at least a hundred people, besides heavy loss to human property and crops. It led to the foundation of the Mizo National Famine Front, set up to provide relief to far-flung areas; the front later became the Mizo National Front, which, under former Chief Minister Laldenga and current CM Zoramthanga, fought a bitter separatist struggle for twenty years against the Indian Army.

The 2006 Mautam has led to an explosion in the rat population and the army has been called to assist embattled civil authorities and, apart from killing rats, help educate people on pest control and means of deterrents such as growing turmeric and spices which repel rats [8].


Agriculture
Agriculture is the mainstay of the people of Mizoram. More than 70% of the total population is engaged in some form of agriculture. The age-old practice of Jhum cultivation is carried out annually by a large number of people living in rural areas. The climatic conditions of the state, its location in the tropic and temperate zones, and its various soil types along with well-distributed rainfall of 1900 mm to 3000 mm spread over eight to ten months in the year, have all contributed to a wide spectrum of rich and varied flora and fauna in Mizoram. These natural features and resources also offer opportunities for growing a variety of horticultural crops.


Food processing
The agro-climatic conditions of Mizoram are conducive to agricultural and horticultural crops. As this is the case, a strong and effective food processing sector should play a significant supportive role in the economy. The total production of fruits, vegetables, and spices will be increasing year by year as the number of farmers are weaned away from Jhum cultivation and are taking up diversification towards cash crops. Recently, Godrej Agrovet Limited [9] has entered for a new venture wherein Oil Palm and Jatropha cultivation is their main theme in Mizoram.


Mines & minerals
The present main mineral of Mizoram is a hard rock of Tertiary period formation. This is mainly utilized as building material and for road construction work. However, several reports (both from Geological Survey of India and State Geology & Mining Wing of Industries Department) revealed that the availability of minor mineral in different places.


Hand looms & handicrafts
Mizo women typically use a hand loom to make clothing and other handicrafts, such as a type of bag called Pawnpui and blankets. The Mizo rarely did much craft work until the British first came to Mizoram in 1889 when a demand for their crafts was created with this exposure to foreign markets. Currently, the production of hand looms is also being increased, as the market has been widening within and outside Mizoram.
 

 
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