About 25% of the states land area is under forests. Forests in Assam are rich in valuable trees such as, Sal, Simalu, Saral, Segun, Agar, Bossum, Bamboo, Cane, Medicinal herbs, etc. They also supply fruits, fuel and fodder. These forest resources have helped the growth of forest-based industries such as, plywood and paper industries.
Agar oil extracted from Agaru trees is a valuable product highly demanded all over India. The vast forests of the state not only provide employment to thousands of people but also prevent soil erosion, add fertility to the soil, lower down humidity and temperature and bring about abundant rain in the state. The forest-based tourism centres such as Kaziranga National Park and Manas Sanctuary fetch a good deal of income for the state.
The state produces nearly 55% of the total output of tea in the country. Her main agricultural produces are rice, wheat, pulses, potatoes and maize, while chief cash crops consist of tea, jute, oil seeds, tobacco and sugar cane. Many of these agricultural produces are exported to other parts of India bringing a good deal of revenue to the state. Sericulture made much headway in the state. Silk products such as Muga and Endi’ of Assam are world famous.
Assam is gifted by nature with plenty of rainfall and many swift flowing rivers and streams. Therefore the power potential of the state is immense. It is estimated that in the total water potential of India, Assam alone is capable of providing 28%.
The mighty Brahmaputra and its numerous tributaries have great potential for the generation of hydroelectricity. The existence of numerous rivers has also boosted the growth of fishing and fish-rearing industry in the state.
Although, Assam is blessed with an abundant supply of natural resources, yet she remains one of the industrially backward states of India. The apathy of the state govt., the step-motherly treatment of the central govt., constant political instability in the state, recent spurt in militancy, etc. have primarily been responsible for this state of affairs. Some corrective steps have been taken recently in this direction. But a lot more remains to be done if the state wishes to usher an era of prosperity in the state.