The idea of Gurudeva Tagore’s rural reconstruction was primarily focused on village survey and collection of data on different aspects of rural lives. Towards that objective “Sriniketan experiment” was started around 1922-23. The objective of Sriniketan experiment was to understand and identify the problems of villages and also to find their solutions. The objective was also to see how villages of India can be made self-sufficient and prosperous, which, in turn will improve the economic conditions of the village people and make them happy. The activities of Sriniketan experiments were classified into three main branches (i) Research and Experiments, (ii) Training and (iii) Extension and Development.
Later around 1933, Sriniketan Research Project was initiated. In 1954 Agro Economic Research Centre was established with the support of Govt. of India and the projects under Sriniketan Experiment came under the purview of AERC.
The Agro-Economic Research Centre was established in 1954 and became permanent in May, 1990. It stands integrated with Visva-Bharati with effect from April 1995. The centre is sponsored by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, 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 Eastern India (originally covering the states of Assam, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal) was established in tune with the University's long tradition of research in rural reconstruction as initiated by Rabindranath Tagore at Sriniketan. The main activities of this centre include carrying out of village surveys, investigations on some basic problems experienced by the rural people and rural development. It is also provides technical advice to the central as well as state governments on the issues referred to by them. At present, the Centre has been operating in an area which comprises of whole of West Bengal, Sikkim and Andaman Nicobar Islands.
The existing building of the Centre has been constructed with the help of capital grants sanctioned by the then Ministry of Food and Agriculture in 1957-58. The building, covering a plinth area of 6970 square feet was designed by Sri A. C. Bose, Engineer-in-Charge, Works and Building Department, Visva-Bharati. Sri Suren Dey of Kala Bhavana sculpted the figure in front of the building, under the guidance of legendary artist Sri Ramkinkar Baij.
Presently the centre covers the following activities-
>> Evaluation of Government Schemes through collecting of primary and secondary data.
>> To provide quarterly information to NITI Aayog on Selected Indicators of Agricultural Performance (Every quarter on 16 indicators).
>> Continuous Village Survey & Re-survey.
By 2021, this Centre had completed more than 192 studies covering a wide spectrum of subjects pertaining to agricultural growth and development which inter-alia include investment, subsidies, livelihoods, credit, marketing, farm inputs, co-operation, food economics, fisheries, agro-rural industries, etc.