Monday, September 20, 2021

Tripura initiates steps to promote cultivation of Agar to transform the Economy

A crop that has no equals in the field of natural incense, Agarwood is known as the wood of the gods; a product of the religious and cultural aroma. Agarwood is an economically important and fast-growing evergreen tree species native to North East India… creating a paradigm shift to explore new dynamics of access and benefit-sharing. Apart from India, the Agar tree’s distribution ranges from the foothills of the Himalayas to Papua New Guinea.

Aquilaria malaccensis or Agar Tree isn’t just an aromatic plant, it’s a substratum of economic prosperity in the North-Eastern region in India. Now, after Assam, the Tripura government has taken all-out initiatives to encourage farmers for commercial cultivation of agar.

The government has stated that Agarwood species have a huge potential of creating an Economic Revolution in Tripura after Rubber, Bamboo, and other major forestry crops.

Tripura AgarWood Policy 2021:

The Agar species are critically endangered but in Tripura, due to adaptability of the land and low input for management and growth, intercropping adaptation could make Agar a preferred cash crop.

Hence, in order to promote Agar tree, Agarwood based industry, its plantation, it’s sustainable harvesting, the Tripura government released the ‘Tripura AgarWood Policy 2021,’ which aims to double agarwood plantation by the year 2025. The potential of Agar trade in the state is estimated to be around Rs 2000 crore.

The policy that aims to transform the Economy

From generating employment, source of livelihood to improving farming stature in India, the policy serves as a comprehensive roadmap for the promotion of Agar for economic revolution in the state of Tripura. The policy attempts to make Rs.20 billion industry in the next 5 years.

The policy also aims to promote the Agarwood-based Industries by ensuring Ease of Doing Business and by providing proper market linkages. Further, this will encourage Research and development in the field of artificial inoculation for agarwood formation, sustainable harvesting, and improvement in the quantity and quality of products.

It is worth noting that in the current fiscal year, Tripura aims to export 75,000 kg of agar chips and 1,500 kg of agar oil. Over 50 lakh trees can be found throughout the state.

*Indian scent that transcends to the world*

Agarwood processing and trade is secretive and restricted to only a few groups. Both oil and Agarwood chips are being sold in the North East Market in Assam. However, its value in the international market is many times more than what it is being sold for in the North East Market. Through this policy, it is attempted to get the right price to the growers of Agar for the Agar products originated from Tripura.

Transformation: From rotten wood to a sweet fragrance of perfume

The most expensive raw material in the world, fragrant Agarwood is formed due to complex biotic, abiotic and stress-induced resin on the Aquilaria trees. In the formation of oils, the wood of the tree must first become infected with mold named Phialophora Parasitica. Prior to the infection, the healthy wood is pale, odourless, and relatively light in colour. However, as the infection progresses, the tree starts producing a dark aromatic resin which is called aloes in response to the attack of the external forces, which results in a very dense, dark, resin-embedded wood. This fragrant dark resinous wood, Agarwood is used in incense, perfume, and small carvings.

It is said that the state capital of Tripura, Agartala has derived its name from Agarwood. Agarwood is described as a fragrant product of wealth and luxury in one of the world’s oldest written texts of Vedas. Hence, looking at the extensive economic booster, the government is all geared to make the most of the valuable Agarwood for the farmers of Tripura.

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