With a geographical area of 21,087 square kilometres Mizoram probably has the most difficult terrain. Over 80% of the total geographical area of the state is covered with steep hills. The percentage of rural population is 50.36 of which 20.56 % are poor. Broadly, the persistence of rural poverty is a result of inadequate access to natural resources, over dependence on land, low productivity due to inadequate use of technology, deficit infrastructure, unemployment and underemployment, inability of rural people engaged in traditional occupational crafts to upgrade their skill, inaccessibility to basic social infrastructure and physical infrastructure, access to agricultural land by rural poor, limited livelihood opportunities and the lack of active participation of rural poor in development process.
While 60.60% of population comprises of cultivators, agriculture & allied sectors contribute only 16.7% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).This share is declining over the years. Though agriculture is the mainstay of the state, only 5% of the total area is under cultivation, of which only 11% is irrigated. The high dependence for livelihood on this sector, with limited irrigation potential resulting only in single crop in major portions of the land, suggests the need to explore options for income earning potential from this sector.
The economy of Mizoram is very much dominated by the cultivation practice of Jhum, which constitutes 63% of the total cultivable land in the state.
file absence of credit facilities in the rural areas, lack of capacity building and training due to inadequate institutional infrastructure, entry level barriers, high costs and distant locations, absence of risk coverage for the beneficiaries etc. are the key livelihood issues in Mizoram.
Ongoing Development Programmes:
The ongoing rural development programs being implemented by the Rural Development Department are MGNREGA, Indira Awas Yojana, Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojona, Integrated Wasteland Development Programme, Border Area Development Progarmme and Backward Region Grant Fund.
Apart from above mentioned schemes, Mizoram Government has also formulated various policies to combat the developmental issues. One key strategy is the introduction of a New Land Use Policy to address the issue of jhum cultivation. Under the Jhum parctice the common land belonging to the village is given out by the Village Council for cultivation. The New Land Use Policy would provide individual entitlments to the land so that they tend and develop the land with longer term perspective. Another major policy being the Bamboo Policy, which has been formulated to fully tap the ecological and economic potentials of the bamboo resource in the State. Industrial Policy is another measure evolved with a view to engineer rapid growth in the State through sustainable industrial development. Besides, a power policy is also in place for providing a greater thrust on the overall development and promotion of renewable energy technologies in the State.
Mizoram has a system of elected Village Council akin to panchyats in other places. Women self help groups have been formed under SGSY scheme of the government. These groups have been invariably formed to take benefit of the scheme, but many continue with saving and credit activity though not regularly.