In an effort to help the country’s embattled MSME sector, the Centre has decided to rope in IITs to extend their support to the ‘agarbatti’ (incense sticks) industry as part of its ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign aimed at making India self-reliant.
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Ministry has expanded its reach and support to artisans, involved in making agarbattis, as well as to the industry, by its new guidelines issued on September 4.
The ministry launched the support programme on July 30. But now, it has looked at all aspects of the industry, beyond just supply of machines for making agarbattis. This includes ensuring supply of inputs and raw materials, the demand for which has increased hugely in the last one year, as per the Centre.
The Centre has a 4-point agenda for extending support to the industry which it believes will help in strengthening India’s MSME sector. It has decided to continuously support the artisans through training, raw material, marketing and financial support.
It has also worked on all aspects of this product, like innovation in the fragrance and packaging, use of new or alternate raw materials like re-usable flowers, coir pith, and supply of bamboo sticks by closely working with the Ministry of Agriculture to help the industry flourish.
For this purpose, a ‘Centre of Excellence’ is also being set up in the Flavour and Fragrance Development Centre in Uttar Pradesh’s Kannauj, which is known to be India’s fragrance capital.
The Centre has also decided to set up 10 clusters with proper marketing linkages under SFURTI (Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries) scheme of the MSME Ministry at a total cost of about Rs 50 crore.
This, it said, will benefit about 5,000 artisans for their sustainable employment. Under its 4-point agenda for incense industry, the Centre has also decided to strengthen the machine manufacturing capability to achieve self-sufficiency in the country and develop various other products by setting up ‘Centres of Excellence’ with IITs or NITs at a cost of Rs 2.20 crore.
After this expansion, 400 automatic agarbatti making machines as against 200 earlier, and additional 500 pedal-operated machines will be given to Self-Help Groups and individuals through 20 pilot projects, the MSME Ministry said on Sunday. It will also help in marketing and raw material supply tie ups, it added.
“The programme will immediately benefit about 1,500 artisans, in providing sustainable employment with increased earnings. Artisans developing hand-rolled agarbattis and migrant workers will be given preference as part of the programme,” a Ministry statement said.
To make India self-reliant in this sector, the total size of the programme, has been increased to more than Rs 55 crore, which will include immediate support of about Rs 3.45 crore to about 1,500 artisans, development of two Centres of Excellence costing at Rs 2.20 crore at IITs/NITs and at FFDC Kannauj and setting up of 10 new SFURTI clusters at a cost of about Rs 50 crore, benefitting about 5,000 additional artisans. Earlier the size of the program was of Rs 2.66 crore covering about 500 artisans.
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission, one of the statutory organisations under the MSME, will implement the programme and will “handhold the artisans” with proper backward & forward linkages and support, the Centre claimed.
These projects, the Centre believes, will give a boost to the agarbatti industry and help in further building indigenous capability in all areas of agarbatti manufacturing with increased exports, and enhanced employment opportunities to the artisans and entrepreneurs.