1. Agriculture World

It will Take 4-5 Years for India to Achieve Self-Sufficiency in Bamboo: Zed Black Director

MDPH, one of the top three incense stick manufacturers in the country, sells its products under the Zed Black brand name throughout the country. Its brand ambassadors are former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni and Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan.

Shivam Dwivedi
Bamboo
Bamboo

According to a top official of a leading incense stick brand, it will take at least 4-5 years for India to achieve self-sufficiency in bamboo production to meet the needs of the domestic industry, particularly incense (agarbatti) stick manufacturers.

"The National Bamboo Mission has launched only a few years ago, and it was in 2019 that the Centre encouraged domestic bamboo planting to compensate for imports." Bamboo plants will take 4-5 years to mature and become self-sufficient, according to Ankit Agrawal, Director of Mysore Deep Perfumery House (MDPH).

MDPH, one of the top three incense stick manufacturers in the country, sells its products under the Zed Black brand name throughout the country. Its brand ambassadors are former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni and Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan.

"At the moment, 5,000-6,000 tonnes of bamboo are imported each month, while domestic production is barely 100 tonnes." Our company requires 200-300 tonnes of bamboo per month. "We continue to import because we have no other options," he explained. MDPH sources bamboo locally to some extent from Assam and Tripura, taking advantage of bamboo missions, but the primary raw material is imported from Vietnam.

The company makes two kinds of products. The first is raw agarbattis used for captive purposes, and the second is perfumed incense sticks. In a machine, bamboo is mixed with a paste of charcoal, joss powder (made by crushing the bark of the litsea glutinosa tree), and sawdust mixed with water to make raw incense sticks.

"After the Centre announced its policy to discourage bamboo imports in 2019, we began backward integration to produce our own raw incense sticks," Agrawal explained.

MDPH initially sourced raw incense sticks until 2009-10, when raw material availability became a problem, and then began importing bamboo from Vietnam. When the Centre began to promote bamboo cultivation, it began to purchase bamboo locally in order to encourage domestic production.

The Centre declassified bamboo as a tree and changed its status to grass on December 26, 2017. It also amended the Indian Forest Act of 1927 and deregulated the bamboo trade, which had previously been regulated by state forest departments.

MDPH has been investing in modern manufacturing units near Indore, Madhya Pradesh, as part of its backward integration. It has established two new manufacturing facilities, one in Rampipliya and the other in Kshipra village, both near Indore. The greenfield units have added 5.3 lakh sq ft of manufacturing space to the firm's 7 lakh sq ft area.

The 3.5 lakh sq ft Ram Pipliya unit is the world's largest raw agarbatti manufacturing unit. The Kshipra plant has 1.8 lakh square feet of manufacturing space. Both plants will assist MDPH, which employs approximately 4,000 people, 80 percent of whom are women, in creating 2,000 additional job opportunities.

Agrawal stated that the new units will support Zed Black's expansion plans, which include exports to over 40 countries, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, and Chile, as well as cater to changing consumer preferences in India. Raw materials such as raw incense sticks, raw dhoop cones, and raw dhoop sticks will be produced by the Ram Pipliya unit.

According to the MDPH official, the incense stick industry, which had been growing at a 15% annual rate, increased by 30% during the pandemic as people stayed at home and prayed more. "Things are evening out now that people are starting to go to work." "The growth could be 12-15 percent this year alone, and it will continue in the long run because it is used for both happy and sad occasions," Agrawal predicted.

In response to a question, he stated that his company's backward integration would not include contract farming or bamboo planting. "It's a completely different game that requires time and investment. We will seek raw material from Assam, Tripura, and other states," the MDPH official said.

Despite the fact that bamboo prices have been "fairly stable," the rise in container and ocean freight rates is cause for concern. The weather and crude oil influenced the price and supply of raw materials such as essential oils, aroma oils, and natural oils. Agrawal added that a large portion of these raw materials are purchased locally.

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