In order to promote the cultivation of Agar and Chandan (sandalwood) in the state, the Government of Assam has relaxed the restrictions on the 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 which will promote the cultivation of Agar and Chandan in the state. In a tweet, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also said that the Cabinet has also approved setting up of an International Trade Centre for Agar in Golaghat.
According to a senior industry officer in the state, the cabinet has kind of liberalized the Agar plantation which is also known as “Aquilaria Malaccensis” and its felling. The officer said that now there is no need for registration for Agar cultivation up to 35 bighas of land which is going to boost the state’s economy to a great extent.
The cultivation of Agar tree is seen in Sivasagar, Sadia, Nagaon, Darrang, Goalpara and Cachar. Apart from Assam, the tree is also grown in Khasi Hills and Garo Hills districts in Meghalaya. The tree is also found in the forests of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
Hojai district is said to be the hub of distilling the agar oil and more than two lakh people are directly dependent on the agar cultivation and illegal trade in the state. Reports say that in Hojai district alone, there are over 2,000 distillation units of Agar.
The All Assam Agar Traders and Agar Oil Manufacturers” Association has been demanding the state government to exempt agarwood from the purview of Assam Wood Based Industries (Establishment and Regulation) Rules 2000 and bringing them under the Secondary Wood Based Industries.