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Higher import duty on bamboo sticks to curb heavy import from '

New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI) Khadi & Village Industries Commission on Thursday said the hike in import duty on bamboo sticks to 25 per cent will curb heavy imports from China and boost local manufacture of agarbatti and bamboo industries.

In the next 8-10 months, at least one lakh new jobs will be created in the agarbatti (incense sticks) industry, a major activity under the village industry sector in India, according to industry players, KVIC stated.

'The decision assumes great significance as heavy import of bamboo sticks from China and Vietnam caused huge employment loss in India. This decision will pave the way for setting up of new agarbatti stick manufacturing units to meet the ever-growing demand of Agarbatti in India,' KVIC said.

It said at present consumption of incense sticks in India is pegged at a whopping 1,490 tonnes per day but only 760 tonnes per day is locally produced.

Hence, the huge gap between the demand and supply resulted in heavy import of raw agarbatti.

Consequently, the import of raw agarbatti increased from just 2 per cent in 2009 to 80 per cent in 2019, KVIC said.

In monetary terms, the import of raw agarbatti in India increased exponentially from Rs 31 crore in 2009 to Rs 546 crore in 2019 due to reduction of import duty in 2011 from 30 per cent to 10 per cent, it added.

KVIC stated, 'This hit the Indian agarbatti manufacturers hard and resulted in closure of nearly 25 per cent of the total units'.

On request of Khadi and Village industries Commission (KVIC), the Ministry of Commerce on August 31, 2019, placed the import of raw agarbatti under “Restricted” category.

However, while the restriction on import revived hundreds of agarbatti units in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and several North Eastern states, it also prompted the local traders to import round bamboo sticks for manufacturing of raw Agarbatti.

This resulted in increase in import of bamboo sticks from Rs 210 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 370 crore in the year 2019-20.

KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said this single decision will strengthen the agarbatti as well as the bamboo industry in India.

'India is the second largest producer of bamboo in the world but ironically, it is also the second largest importer of bamboo and its products.

'The hike in import duty on bamboo sticks from 10 per cent to 25 per cent will curb heavy import from China and encourage local manufacture in Agarbatti and bamboo industries. We are expecting now India will become 'atmanirbhar' in Agarbatti production soon which will create thousands of new jobs,' Saxena said.

India produces 14.6 million tons of bamboo every year with nearly 70,000 farmers engaged in bamboo plantation. While 136 varieties of bamboo are found in India; the Bambusa Tulda variety, which is used for making agarbatti sticks, is found in abundance in the north-eastern region. PTI RSN MR MR