Plantation : Among plantation crops, Tea and Rubber are the major ones with the turnover of the former being 77 Lakh Kg. and the latter, about 1 Lakh Kg. The total land area under 27 tea gardens in the district is about 25,000 Hectares, although only about one-third of this land is under actual tea plantation. Rubber plantation in the district is relatively new and occupies only a fraction of the land under tea plantation. Most of tea and almost whole of the rubber output is exported to other states/countries.
Fishing : Karimganj District has huge potential for fishery, being endowed with a large number of rivers, swamps, ponds and other natural water bodies. There are 49 registered beels covering a total area of 4,420 Hectares and about 23,535 smaller ponds and lakes covering another 3,545 Hectares. Besides, there are 7 river based fisheries in operation. Total Fish production in the district in 1997-98 was 8372.97 M.T. Besides, about 176.338 Million fry and fingerlings were also produced in the same year. In spite of this, the district is far from being self-sufficient in fish production, particularly, owing to the huge consumption of the item. Large quantities of fish is imported from distant states of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and also neighbouring country of Bangladesh.
Farming : Livestock and Poultry occupy an important place in the rural economy and also act as household assets. Cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, pig etc are the most common livestock animals while hen and duck comprise the poultry birds. However, egg production is very much deficient and therefore imported from other states in large quantity.
Forestry : Timber, Bamboo, Cane, Stone, Sand are the major forest products of the district. The district has about 54 thousand hectares of forest area covering almost 30% of the total area. The forests are rich in various costly timbers like teak, sundi, gamari etc. Huge quantity of bamboo is harvested and supplied regularly to paper mill in the neighbouring Hailakandi District. However, in the last few years, restrictions have been imposed on cutting of trees to prevent large scale deforestation and as a result, timber production has gone down considerably.
Oil & Natural Gas exploration : Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has been engaged in exploration works at several drilling sites in the district. There are indictions of large reserve of natural gas in the region. Already natural gas is being drilled on commercial basis from one drill site at Adamtilla in Patharkandi Block. A small gas-turbine based power station with an installed capacity of 15 MW has been set up at that location by DLF Corporation to generate and distribute eletricity, which has been functioning for the last 3 years.
Trade & Commerce :
As per last general Census held in 2001, around 9% of the active workforce in Karimganj district
is engaged in trade and commerce. Before independence, Karimganj towm was an important centre
for trade and commerce in the entire region due to good communication links both by rail and by
steamer services through what is now Bangladesh. Direct trade links with Calcutta snapped after
partition of the land in 1947 and gradually the importance of Karimganj as a trading centre also
lost its glory. The direct rail service was totally stopped and the steamer service continued in
a limping manner. Presently the rail link through Badarpur-Lumding-Guwahati-New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri
is the only railway link, albeit a very long one, connecting Karimganj to the rest of the country.
Similarly, the national highway through Badarpur-Shillong-Guwahati is the only viable road link
available. In view of the immense importance of this road link on the entire economy of this region,
the road has been considerably improved, making it more stable, wider and less landslide prone.
Karimganj has to has to depend on the supply from rest of India for most of the items of daily need, such as food grains, spices, sugar and other food items, textiles & garments, construction materials, automobiles & auto-parts, stationery items and so on. The supply of Kerosene, Petrol, diesel, L.P.G., paper etc comes from other parts of Assam.
Among the export items, tea, bamboo & bamboo products, cane & cane products, forest products like timber & stone, areca nut (betelnut) are the major ones.
Internal trade in the district has been seriously hampered by very bad road conditions, border area restrictions on trade, low productivity of agricultural sector, poverty of mass population keeping down demand, low credit disbursement from banks and so on.
However, international trade with Bangladesh has picked up considerably in the recent years and promises to grow further. At present a large number of items like food items, fruits, coal and other products of daily use, mostly sourced from outside the district are exported to Bangladesh through two border points in Karimganj. While Kalibari Ghat on River Kushiara in Karimganj town is utilised for supplying goods by boats and small steamers, Sutarkandi border point - about 12 Km. away from Karimganj Town is extensively used for direct road tranportation of export items. An International Trading Centre and Free Trade Zone in Sutarkandi is proposed to be set up raising great expectations about a new boost to the local economy. Last year, exports worth about Rs. 50 Crores were carried out through Karimganj Border, which resulted in considerable foreign exchange earnings. According to exporters based in Karimganj, given some diversification of traded goods, a little tax inducements from Government, improvement of roads and other infra-tructure, the volume of border trade can go up manifold from its present level. Apart from the current products like coal, foodgrains, spices, sugar, fruits and vegetables etc - which are sourced from outside, many other locally available items like paper, bamboo, stone etc may have large export potential.
Basic information with regard to the share of the tertiary sector is not available yet. However, after taking certain assumptions, the per capita DDP in 1996-97 was put at Rs. 1,628 /- based on 1980-81 price level and at Rs. 6,663 /- at current price level.
To arrive at Gross Income, we have to add the total foreign exchange remittances received from family members living and earning abroad, the estimated value of which may be put at around Rs. 100 Crores per annum.
However, there is enough scope for development if the inherent strengths and unique advantages are adequately harnessed. Vast forest reserve, huge potential for fishery, horticulture and other agro-based industries, possible natural gas reserve and also immense possibility of border trade with Bangladesh - provide a bright hope for an economic turnaround. National Highway - 44, the main road link with rest of the country is now in a much better condition than earlier. Conversion of existing Meter Gauge rail link through Hill Section to Broad Gauge is in progress and once completed, will facilitate direct and uninterrupted rail communication to anywhere in the country. Talks are also on regarding opening up of the Border with Bangladesh for resumption of direct rail, road and steamer communication with Calcutta. Hopefully, the coming years will see a sea-change and rapid development in the economic status of the district.