(MENAFN- IANS) By Sujit Chakraborty
Agartala, Sep 26 (IANS) Tripura is making all out efforts to recover its lost glory and dominate Indias agarbatti industry as the sector until recently was controlled by Vietnam and China.
According to officials of Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC), the state's production of bamboo sticks for the country's agarbatti industry fell from 29,000 MT in 2010 to 1,241 MT in 2017 as Vietnam (49 per cent) and China (47 per cent) supplied 96 per cent of India's total requirement of 70,000 MT round bamboo sticks per year.
"Taking advantage of the free trade regime and easy and cost effective waterway transport, Vietnam and China dominated India's agarbatti industry by supplying the basic raw materials in bulk quantities.
"In 2019, the central government increased the customs duty to 25 per cent and all bamboo products were included in the restricted list ensuring hurdles for other countries," a senior TIDC official told IANS.
He said that earlier Tripura artisans produced the bamboo sticks by hand, but a few years back the government helped them to procure a user-friendly machine to make the sticks.
Currently, the northeastern state is producing 2,500 MT bamboo sticks and within the next few years the production would increase to 12,000 MT and gradually the production would increase as 14 more new bamboo sticks manufacturing units with modern machines would soon come up across the state.
During a buyer-seller meeting on Agarwood products of Tripura earlier this week, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in his virtual speech said that imposition of import restrictions on agarbatti sticks has helped in promoting domestic manufacturing of these incense sticks on a large scale.
"In August 2019, the government put curbs on imports of agarbatti sticks and other similar products amid reports of significant increase in inbound shipments from countries like China and Vietnam. Importers of these goods require a licence from the government," the central minister had said.
The TIDC official said that the bamboo sticks manufacturing industry was further rejuvenated with the launching of the "Mukhyamantri Agarbatti Atmanirbhar Mission" by Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on August 15 last year.
The mission had incorporated various scopes and provisions of the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme, Swabalamban scheme and the National Bamboo Mission.
The official said that responding to the Tripura Chief Minister's appeal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had increased the import duty to prevent outside players like Vietnam and China from exploiting the vast market of the raw bamboo sticks for the agarbatti industry in the country.
"The centre's decision helped Tripura a lot to revive its incense industry," the official said, refusing to be named.
"With 30 more bamboo sticks manufacturing units having been approved with a subsidy amounting to Rs 25 lakh for each, Tripura would soon expect to capture at least 60 per cent of the whole market."
TIDC Chairman Tinku Roy said that the state's Industry and Commerce Department officials are in talks with several industries to ensure market linkage for the newly thriving industry.
Highlighting the government's efforts to promote entrepreneurship, Roy said: "We have identified three priority areas where the government is trying to invest maximum. The areas include rubber, Agar tree cultivation and value addition and bamboo."
"These sectors would certainly boost the economy of the state in a big way."
Tripura, neighbouring Mizoram and other northeastern states are cultivating various species of bamboo in abundance with about 28 per cent of India's bamboo forests located in northeast India.
Of the 1,250 bamboo species throughout the world, India has 145 of them.
Bamboo forests in India occupy approximately 10.03 million hectares, and comprise about 12 per cent of the total forest area of the country.
Bamboo is also known as "green gold" in the mountainous northeastern region.
The Tripura government in 2009 had developed India's first Bamboo Park at Bodhjungnagar industrial growth centre at a cost of Rs 30 crore on 135 acres of land to help expand bamboo-based industries.
"Many entrepreneurs established factories out of which one big industry has been set up for producing bamboo flooring tiles (Bamboowood), bamboo laminated board, furniture made of laminated bamboo and round bamboo, partition wall, home design materials which is very attractive," an official document said.
Thousands of eco-friendly bamboo items have traditionally been made in Tripura and other northeastern states. Recently the state artisans have developed useful bamboo products like water bottles, baskets, mobile stands beside a variety of ornamental items.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at )
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