The Centre was set up in 1954 and became permanent on May, 1990. It stands integrated with Visva-Bharati with effect from April 1995. The centre is sponsored by Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India and treated as special centre by the recent amendment of statute by the visitor (Honourable President of India) of Visva-Bharati.

The Agro-Economic Research Centre for East India (originally covering the states of Assam, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal) was established by the Ministry on July I, 1954 at Visva-Bharati in tune with the University's long tradition of research in agricultural economics centering around the rural reconstruction programme of Rabindranath Tagore at Sriniketan. At this time three more centres were established at Delhi, Pune and Madras to cover the country as a whole.

The agriculture sector constituted the most dominating sector of Indian economy. From the very beginning of the planning process, the policy makers and planners in India have given high priority to this sector. For successful implementation of various schemes and programmes, it was felt that region specific problems related to agriculture and allied sectors need to be studied for having appropriate feedback from the grass root level.

The main planks of activities of these centres initially included conducting village surveys, studies, investigations of the fundamental problems being experienced in an agricultural economy and rural development as also to provide technical advice to the central as well as state governments on the issues referred to by them.

It has been mentioned earlier that at the time of inception, the Centre had a jurisdiction covering the states of Assam, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. With the opening of new centres at Jorhat, Waltair, Allahabad and recently in Bhagalpur; the whole of Assam, Orissa and Bihar were allocated to those new Centres. At present, the Centre has been operating in an area which comprises whole of West Bengal, Sikkim and Andaman Nicobar Islands.

By 2011, this Centre had completed more than 165 studies covering a wide spectrum of subjects pertaining to agricultural growth and development which inter-alia include employment, water resources, credit, small and marginal farmers, marketing, seeds, fertilizer, horticulture, rainfed farming, co-operation, land use, subsidies, regional planning, NGOs, food economics, fisheries, agro-rural industries etc.

With the passage of time and with a large number of villages surveyed and resurveyed, the Centre finally switched over to problem-oriented studies, rather than, policy oriented studies. Within this period of time, many developmental projects were also been taken up related to the improvement of rural areas and it was felt necessary that studies of such projects might be taken up for evaluation by the Agro-Economic Research Centres in future.