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Monday, July 15, 2024

Tripura targets a 20 billion annual economy from Agar

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Tripura government has announced an annual economy of 20 billion Indian rupees by 2025 from Agar (Aquilaria malaccensis), an evergreen tree, abandoned in the Northeastern region hills of South Asia. The Tripura Agarwood Policy 2021 adopted by the state government recently targeted bringing at least 2000 hectares of land under Agar cultivation in the next five years, which attempted to encourage it as a cash crop on the rubber, bamboo, and pineapple patterns.
Agar – a potential aromatic plant is very common in Tripura and the name of it’s capital Agartala was named after the tree by one of the earliest kings of Tripura Patardan BC in 1900 AD. Agar is considered to be the cradle of Agarwood aromatics and has been used for over 2000 years for medicinal, aromatic, and religious purposes. It is the preferred source for perfumery and religious traditions in the Middle East and India but was uncared for over two centuries.
At present, Tripura has 54 Lakh Agar trees spread over 2000 hectares of land that is aimed to scale up 104 Lakh trees on 4000 hectares of land by 2025. Tripura government earmarked Rs 100 Cr budget for the promotion of Agar cultivation. The private land holding of 0.4 acres has been supported for raising Agar plantation while growers who cannot spare the land for an Agar plantation would be encouraged to plant the tree as fencing and shade to their existing plantation and residential plot, which can grow at the spacing as less as one-foot, experts opined.
“Once the tree becomes three years old, barbed wire fencing can be laid out using this tree as poles. This will help in inducing the artificial infection in these trees and it is proposed to promote Agar plantation as a fencing crop in various plantations,” he argued. The forest department has laid down a business model for Agar cultivation that includes contract farming, an Agar inoculation production unit and inoculation of agar trees, the rising of private agar plantations by taking land on a lease basis, the establishment of agar oil and chips processing unit, quality planting material, agar nursery and tissue culture-based planting material development, banking solution to agar growers and business opportunities from agar byproducts.
Besides support from MSME schemes, Tripura government sought marketing promotion and trade facilitation initiatives from the centre including conducting exhibitions of Agar in major Indian cities, Gulf countries, and some of the major European cities. Apart from that the state government stepped in to sign agreements with pharmaceutical companies, cosmetic industries, refreshment products companies, and neurotherapy centers for business-to-business promotion of Tripura-based agar products in the domestic market, an official explained.
The essential oil from Agarwood is valued as high-class perfumery and is highly priced by European perfumers who blend their best-grade scents. Agarwood oil is also known as the “king of incense” and also has been used in the treatment of many medical conditions. The state plans to set up the Agarwood Trade and Research Centre as a marketing platform for local growers.

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