Assam relaxes curbs on Agar tree cultivation, felling
Guwahati, July 23 (IANS) In a welcome move, the Assam government has relaxed the restrictions on cultivation of the scented Agar tree.
"In a landmark decision, the Cabinet approved growing and cutting of Agar and Chandan trees on non-forest lands. This will promote cultivation of Agar and Chandan in the state. The Cabinet also approved setting up of an International Trade Centre for Agar in Golaghat," said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in a tweet.
'Aquilaria malaccensis', which is locally known as Xasi or Agar, is used in world class perfumeries as a fixative and is highly prized by European perfumers for mixing their best grade scents. It acts as a stimulant, cardio tonic and carminative, aphrodisiac, alternative anodyne, anti-diarrheal, anti-asthmatic and astringent.
"The Assam cabinet has kind of liberalized the Agar plantation and its felling. Now there is no need for registration for Agar cultivation up to 35 bighas of land. This is going to boost the state's economy to a great extent," said a senior industry department officer in Assam.
The plantation of Agar tree is seen in Assam's Sibsagar, Sadiya, Nagaon, Darrang, Goalpara and Cachar districts of Assam. Apart from Assam, the tree is also grown in Khasi Hills and Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya and also found in the forests of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
The All Assam Agar Traders and Agar Oil Manufacturers' Association has been demanding the state government to exempt agar wood from the purview of Assam Wood Based Industries (Establishment and Regulation) Rules 2000 and bringing them under the Secondary Wood Based Industries.
"As Agar wood was classified under the wood based industries, cutting of Agar tree was not allowed and there was requirement of registration for sending the same outside," said the senior official adding that the move would also help stop the illegal Agar trade, which is estimated to be of Rs 10,000 Crore.
At present the Hojai district in Assam is the hub of distilling the agar oil. More than two lakh people are directly dependent on this Agar cultivation and illegal Agar trade in Assam. In Hojai alone, there are over 2,000 distillation units of Agar.