The district is thickly dominated by Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes as per the census of 2011. Agriculture is the mainstay of the rural tribals. Cultivators and Agricultural labourers are estimated to constitute nearly 70% of the total workforce—the district lying a section of the western part of eastern ghat range as undulated and uneven topography. The practice of shifting cultivation, combined with soil erosion and denudation of forest cover, has resulted in ecological imbalances and a sustained decrease in soil productivity and ultimately affecting agricultural productivity—most of the farmers adopting the primitive method, which leads to a low yielding rate.
The major crops grown in the district are paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, millets, ragi, sugarcane, pulses, cotton tobacco, groundnuts, and other local oilseeds are grown in the district are groundnut, Niger, sesame, and mustard. Adding to these crops under horticultural crops like banana, citrus (orange and lemon), mango, coconuts, potatoes, and other fruit crops and vegetables are also grown in different district places.
The fishery sector is an important sector in the district . It provides self-employment for rural people. It also helps to improve nutrition and ecomoic standards of the people. It earns valuable foreign exchange by way of exporting to other countries. The district has inland fisheries which are mainly confined to Gunpur Subdivision.
Poultry production has an appreciable advantage of being relatively easy to raise year round income, adoptable to agro climatic condition of this Rayagada district, generating employment to the rural villages which are nerve center of Indian economic progress and prosperity, where most of the people comprise mostly small and marginal with small holds and landless labourers depending on manual labour for their livelihood. Poultry programmes with duckery on massive scale are generate employment and improve the income of the rural poor through production of eggs and meat on small holdings.