Govt expands support package for agarbatti industry manifold

The government last week announced a manifold expansion of support to artisans for making agarbatti, and save the cottage industry from the clutches of the import lobby. 

Part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s `AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ mission, the expanded programme, announced on 4 September, proposes supply of 400 automatic agarbatti making machines as against 200 earlier, and  additional 500 pedal operated machines to self help groups (SHGs) and individuals through 20 pilot projects, across the country.
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), one of the statutory organisations, under the ministry of small and medium enterprises (MSME), will implement the programme and will handhold the artisans and SHGs with proper backward and forward linkages and needful support.
Arrangements will be made for proper marketing and raw material supply through tie-ups.  
The programme will immediately benefit about 1,500 artisans with sustainable employment and increased earnings. Artisans developing hand-rolled agarbatti and migrant workers will be given preference as part of the programme. 
The total size of the programme has been increased to more than Rs55 crore, which will include immediate support to about 1,500 artisans of about Rs3.45 crore, development of two centres of excellence costing at Rs2.20 crore at IITs/NITs and at FFDC Kannauj and setting up of 10 new SFURTI clusters at a cost of about Rs50 crore, benefitting about 5,000 additional artisans. 
Earlier the size of the programme was Rs2.66 crore, covering about 500 artisans.
These projects, will give boost to the Agarbatti industry and help in further building indigenous capability in all areas of Agarbatti manufacturing with increased exports, and enhanced employment opportunities to the artisans and entrepreneurs, an MSME release stated. 
The ministry has taken a holistic approach in view of the interest of the stakeholders and further expanded the reach and support to artisans, involved in agarbatti making, and to the agarbatti industry, by issuing new guidelines. The ministry has looked at all aspects of the industry, beyond just supply of machines for making agarbatti. This includes ensuring supply of inputs and raw materials, the demand for which has increased hugely in last one year. 
Accordingly, the MSME ministry will continuously support the artisans through training, raw material supply, marketing and financial support; involve in all aspects of the product, like innovation in the fragrance and packaging, use of new /alternative raw materials like re-usable flowers, coir pith etc, supply of bamboo sticks by closely working with ministry of agriculture etc. 
A ‘Centre of Excellence’ for this purpose is being set up in FFDC (Flavour and Fragrance Development Centre) Kanauji.
It is proposed to set up 10 clusters with proper marketing linkages under SFURTI (Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries) scheme of the MSME ministry at a total cost of about Rs50 crore, to benefit about 5,000 artisans for their sustainable employment and enhanced earnings;
Machine manufacturing capacity will be strengthened to achieve self-sufficiency in the country and develop various other products by setting up ‘Centres of Excellence’ with IITs/NITs etc. at a cost of Rs2.20 crore.