Sustained efforts of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to strengthen Indian Agarbatti industry have begun yielding results with Assam leading the way. Union Cabinet Minister of MSME, Shri Nitin Gadkari through video conference inaugurated a major Bamboo Agarbatti Stick making unit named “Keshari Bio Products LLP” at Bajali district in Assam. Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal and KVIC Chairman Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena were present on the occasion.
The unit is a major step in the direction of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” and an apt example of “Waste to Wealth” as apart from making Agarbatti sticks, it utilizes a huge quantity of waste bamboo into making bio-fuel and various other products. Set up at a cost of Rs 10 crore, the Agarbatti stick unit will provide direct employment to 350 people while also creating over 300 indirect employment.
Setting up of these units in Assam assumes great significance in wake of the Modi government’s decision of restriction on import of raw Agarbatti from China and Vietnam and also a hike in import duty on round bamboo sticks for Agarbatti. The two decisions were taken essentially to curb the huge import of Agarbatti and bamboo sticks from the two countries that had crippled the Indian Agarbatti industries.
Shri Gadkari and the KVIC Chairman Vinai Saxena had made great efforts to curb the import of these two commodities. As a result, hundreds of closed Agarbatti manufacturing units in India were revived in the last one and half years creating nearly 3 lakh new jobs. Keshari Bio Products LLP is the first big project that has come up after these policy decisions.
Shri Gadkari expressed happiness over the new bamboo stick unit in Assam saying this would go a long way in strengthening the local Agarbatti industry which has a huge potential for local employment creation. “This is the most appropriate example of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” which aims at creating local employment and sustainable livelihood,” Shri Gadkari said.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister also praised the initiative saying this manufacturing unit would create new employment avenues in the entire state.
The KVIC Chairman Saxena said the import restriction on raw agarbatti and hike in import duty on bamboo agarbatti sticks created a huge employment opportunity in India and these new units aim at capitalizing on the opportunity. “Agarbatti industry is a key vertical of India’s village industry which employs more than 10 lakh artisans. With new Agarbatti and bamboo stick making units coming up, nearly 3 lakh new jobs have been created in this segment in the last one and half years. To reap maximum benefit from this opportunity, KVIC has also launched a program called Khadi Agarbatti Aatmanirbhar Mission to increase India’s local Agarbatti production through the Prime Minister Employment Generation Program,” Saxena said. He added that the new agarbatti stick making unit will also strengthen the huge bamboo-based industry in Assam.
It is noteworthy that only 16% of bamboo is used for making Agarbatti sticks while the remaining 84% bamboo goes waste. However, with diverse technology employed by Keshari Bio Products LLP, every bit of the bamboo is utilized. The waste bamboo is burnt to produce methane gas which is mixed with diesel as an alternate fuel. The burnt bamboo is also used for making charcoal powder for Agarbatti and fuel briquettes. The waste bamboo is also used for making ice-cream sticks, chopsticks, spoons and other items.
At present, the consumption of incense sticks in India is pegged at a whopping 1490 tons per day but only 760 tons per day is locally produced. Hence, the huge gap between the demand and supply resulted in heavy import of raw agarbatti. Consequently, the import of raw agarbatti increased from just 2% in 2009 to 80% in 2019.