Between 55% to 60% of the working population of the state is annually deployed on agriculture. The sector's contribution to the gross state domestic product was 30% in 1994, just 14% in 2009 due to economic growth of other sectors.
Agriculture has traditionally been a subsistence profession in Mizoram. It is seen as a means for generate food for one's family, ignoring its potential for commerce, growth and prosperity. Rice remains the largest crop grown in Mizoram by gross value of output. Fruits have grown to become the second largest category, followed by condiments and spices.
Before 1947, agriculture in Mizoram predominantly used to be slash-and-burn driven Jhum cultivation. This was discouraged by the state government, and the practice has been slowly declining. A 2012 report estimates the proportion of shifting cultivation area in Mizoram to be about 30% - predominant part of which was for rice production (56% to 63% depending on the year). Despite dedicating largest amount of labour, jhum cultivated and non-jhum crop area to rice, the yields are low; Mizoram average rice yields per acre is about 70% of India's average rice yield per acre and 32% of India's best yield. Mizoram produces about 26% of rice it consumes every year, and it buys the deficit from other states of India.
The crop area used for jhum cultivation rotates in Mizoram; that is, the area slashed and burnt for a crop is abandoned for a few years and then jhumias return to slash and burn the same plot after a few years of non-use. The primary reasons for cyclical jhum cultivation includes, according to Goswami et al., personal, economic, social and physical. Jhum cultivation practice offers low crop yields and is a threat to the biome of Mizoram; they suggest increased government institutional support, shift to higher income horticultural crops, assured supply of affordable food staples for survival as means to further reduce jhum cultivation.
In horticulture and floriculture, Mizoram is a significant producer and global exporter of Anthurium (over 7 million a year) and roses. It is also a significant producer and domestic supplier of banana, ginger, turmeric, passion fruit, orange and chowchow. Mizoram hasaccomplished this horticulture success and exports in 2009, with just 6% of its cultivated land dedicated to horticulture and floriculture, indicating a large potential for further growth and economic integration with other Indian states as well export driven economy. In 2013, the area dedicated to horticulture and floriculture increased to 9.4% of 1.2 million hectares potential.
The agricultural productivity is very low in Mizoram. The state gets a lot of rain, but its soil is porous and irrigation infrastructure very inadequate; this has affected it crop yield and reliability. The yield issue that can be addressed by building irrigation infrastructure and adoption of better crop technologies. The state also has very low consumption of fertiliser and pesticides, which scholars suggest offers an opportunity for organic farming particularly of vegetables and fruits.
Forestry, fisheries and sericulture
Mizoram is one of the leading producers of bamboo in India, has 27 species of bamboo, and supplies 14% of India's commercial bamboo. Forest products contribute about 5% to the state's gross product. The state produces about 5,200 metric tonnes of fish a year, about 12% of potential that can be sustainably achieved. Sericulture is an important handicraft industry engaged by nearly 8,000 families in over 300 Mizo villages