Agartala: Former Chief Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Biplab Kumar Deb on Friday moved a Private Member Bill in the upper house urging the central government to constitute a dedicated Board for the research and development of Agarwood. Parliamentarians across the party lines expressed their views on the resolution moved by Deb and the discussion on the issue lasted for around six hours.
Addressing the House, Deb said, “In spite of the fact that the Tripura government has lifted the blanket ban on Agarwood cultivation in the state and rolled out Agar Mission—a dedicated policy for Agarwood, in January this year, not a single gram of Agar could be sold in the international market. Responding to the state government’s appeal, the central government had for the first time granted permission for the export of 25 Metric Ton Agarwood. But still, things did not take shape the way it was expected”.
According to Deb, Agar has multiple uses as every by-product derived from Agarwood has commercial value in the market. “First of all Agar plants have a very little gestation period. Within seven to eight years, Agar plants attain maturity when the inoculation is done. Within two years after inoculation, the plants start producing Agar oil, Chips and Fungus”, he said.
The Agar oil alone, he said, cost Rs 35 lakh per litre in Indian currency. The natural oil extracted from Agarwood sans artificial inoculation cost Rs 75 lakh per litre. The Agar chips, roots, fungus and all other products produced by it have equal commercial value in the international market. But, due to administrative bottlenecks in procuring clearances for trade, the whole business of Agarwood now runs informally. Assam, Tripura and Karnataka are the largest Agar-producing states, but farmers have no other way but to sell their goods to smugglers. If formalized, this sector has the potential to grow into a Rs 2,000 crore industry in the days to come, Deb predicted.
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Referring to existing bodies like Tea Board, Coffee Board, Rubber Board and Spices Board, he said, “I would like to draw the attention of the central government towards the prospects of Agar wood and urge the Ministry to constitute a special committee to study the business aspects and Agar export policies of countries like Laos and Thailand where Agar is a big industry”.
Several MPs cutting across the political lines also extended support to Deb’s resolution.
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