Sivasagar, Assam: At a time when sex-selective abortion or female infanticide is on a rise in the country, this will come as a breath of fresh air.
For several years now, villagers of greater Namti area in Sivasagar district of Assam have been following a unique tradition -- every time a girl child is born, residents plant over 100 agarwood (locally called ‘sachi’) saplings in the region.
For those uninitiated, agarwood is used to produce perfume and incense sticks. In upper Assam, especially in Sivasagar district, many farmers are engaged in agarwood cultivation. The wood is exported to other states of India and also to some countries in Middle-east Asia.
The tradition not only helps in ‘greening’ the environment, it also ensures rural livelihood generation. According to reports, the market value of a 10- to 15-year-old agarwood tree is Rs 5,000 to Rs 5 lakh. Most of the villagers in the area regard them as a source of investment -- money earned from the agarwood trees are used to secure a brighter future for the children.
“It has become a revolution of sorts in Namti. Whenever a new baby is born, especially a girl, everyone in the area plants agarwood saplings,” said Subhasish Chutia, a resident of the Khanikar village.
“Following the birth of my child, I planted 250 agarwood saplings. Not just that, we have decided to plant such trees whenever we find a a vacant space inside our complex,” said Janam Khanikar, another resident of the area.