The economy of Dhemaji is generally agro-based. Sericulture, fishing and
driftwood business are practiced in smaller scale. However, sand deposition
and other adverse effects of chronic floods on fertile agricultural land
have made even affluent farmers land-less. Therefore a large number of such
people shift to greener pastures within the district to carry out
horticultural practices. Lack of good communication system, shortage of
power and lack of proper irrigation & marketing facilities add to the
poverty of the district. Dearth of any major and small industry worth the
name is also responsible for multiplying the problem of unemployment while
galloping explosion in the rate of population growth has already shown signs
of negative impacts. The local economy is thus characterized by subsistence
level of production and consumption.
In Dhemaji district, about 98% of the total population live in the rural
areas. As per 1991 census, 45% of the population are workers, while 55% of
the population are non-workers. Out of the total workers population, the
break up is as follows:
Livestock, forestry, fishery
Marginal workers & other
services : 30%
Trade, Commerce, storage
repairing : 1.62%
This is a clear indication that the majority
of the population is dependent on agriculture. Employment in trade, commerce
and industries is almost insignificant.
Agriculture is the principal occupation and more than 85% of the total
population depends on it. Irrigation is largely rain-fed, with mechanized
shallow tube wells. Paddy cultivation covered 62.59% of the total cropped
area of undivided Lakhimpur district in 1949-50 and 65.50% in 1961. Sali,
Ahu and Boro are the three main varieties of rice commonly grown
in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts. Kharif rice (Sali) occupies an area of
about 54000 ha of which 16878 ha is under HYV. Ahu rice covers an area of
14000 ha. Around 6000 ha of the district is under Bao rice that is mainly
grown in the low lying alluvial belts. In Rabi season toria and wheat covers
an area of 13200 ha and 2000 ha respectively. Out of the total cropped area
around 20155 ha is double cropped. The major cropping systems are Sali rice
followed by Ahu rice, rice followed by toria, rice followed by vegetables
and rice-fallow. In addition, sugarcane and mustard are also grown in some
places of the district. The principal mustard growing areas are Gohaingaon,
Talahi, and Narayanpur mouzas of Dhakuakhana. Pulses are mostly grown in
alluvial flat lands on the riverbanks. The commonly grown pulses are Matimah
(Phaseolus mango), Magumah (Phaseolus aureus), Arhar (Cajanus
cajon), Masurmah (Pisum sativum).
It is significant to note that in the past 5 years people have started
making experiments to see whether a shift to horticulture would be more
Most families rear pigs, goats and poultry, however lack of adequate
veterinary facility and knowledge of scientific breeding has left the
livestock with poor gene pool. People continuously lose their cattle and
poultry to the scourge of floodwaters. In spite of the existence of
Government infrastructure the people have not benefited from the services as
most of the time, veterinary personnel and medicines are not to be found.
In Assam, Sericulture is an age-old traditional cottage industry. Next to
agriculture, Sericulture is the major agro-based industry generating large
number of employment in the rural areas of Assam with minimum investment
cost. It plays a very vital role in the socio-economic development of the
weaker section of the rural population especially during their
Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts occupy a unique place in the production of
the three different kinds of silks - Pat, Muga and Eri - which
have a very high demand in the national and international markets.
Muga silk (Antheraea assamensis) and Eri Silk worm
rearing (Samia cynthia ricini) and production of silk yarn and fabric
is wide spread amongst the people of Dhemaji and Dhakuakhana. However due to
lack of proper infrastructure and appropriate marketing facility this
industry has not been exploited to its full potential.
The main problems facing the Sericulture Industry and the grass root people
are manifold. The problems vary with the type of silk, yet they hold certain
common components like: -
Lack of good quality food
Lack of technical know-how on
seed cocoon preservation and production.
Lack of storage facility for
cocoon, yarn, seed cocoon etc.
Lack of advanced equipment for
weaving, reeling, spinning etc.
Lack of knowledge of pests &
diseases, their control and prevention etc.
Lack of marketing linkages
Lack of knowledge on marketing
design, product standardization etc.
Dhemaji district has 1 Eri concentration centre, 3 Muga food plantation
centres, 1 collective mulberry garden, 1 Eri seed grainage all run by the
Government, however these infrastructures provide little support to the silk
rearers and some are even non functional.
Fish drying is another practice carried out during the monsoon season,
mainly by the people living near the rivers. The market value of the produce
is high, but poor communication facilities in the district, especially
during the monsoon months, result in high transportation costs. Another
factor that affects the trade adversely is the lack of storage facility so
that the producers can wait till the roads are repaired.
Industries, Trade & Commerce:
There are no significant small-scale industries and not a single big
industry in the entire Dhemaji district. Some of the small-scale units are
registered as weaving or cane and bamboo industries, however the actual
production does not have any market value due to competition from highly
finished machine goods that are cheap and maintenance free. The silk
industry has the potential to be commercially tapped. Some local people of
the area also produce mustard, but they are not able to compete with the
non-local businessmen who control the market.