Cheap Chinese agarbattis flooding Indian market
This could prove to be a serious dampener to prime minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ drive. Chinese agarbattis of every hue, size and fragrance are flooding Indian markets like never before. Agarbatti is an essential buy for every Indian family that begins their day with pooja (prayers), and they were till some time ago fully made in India.
Chinese agarbattis are a lot cheaper than Indian-made ones, and Indian manufacturers are worried. The market for Chinese agarbattis is growing rapidly. The industry in the country employs mostly women, and around 75% of women workers in the field have now been rendered jobless due to the Chinese invasion.
Agarbattis produced in various parts of the country generate employment for rural women. Most of the rural agarbatti manufacturers have now downed shutters or reduced the quantity of their output.
Many of the raw materials that go into an agarbatti used to be locally procured. Various types of powders go into the making the vast range of incense—charcoal, jigit, wood, kupam, flora, nargis, joss, white chip and white wood, but now they arrive in bulk from China. Hence, Indian raw materials, including bamboo wood stick and powder, have also seen a dip in business. Now, even the raw masala stick on wood comes prefabricated from China.
The only job that’s done in India is dipping the ready-made stick in perfumed liquid essence, and packing. With cheap Chinese bamboo wood stick being available in plenty, there are now no buyers for Indian bamboo wood stick.
Indian agarbattis are generally black or brown. The Chinese ones are available in attractive colors, adding verve to their saleability.
Most popular Indian agarbattis are manufactured in Mysore, Bangluru, Tamilnadu and Bihar.
One of the leading agarbatti manufacturers said: “The government need to view this issue seriously and should stop agarbatti imports. The damage has already been done with many women being rendered jobless. With business diminishing, many small manufacturers too have downed shutters.”
One of the largest agarbatti distributors said: “Chinese agarbattis have variety in fragrance and colours, and are reasonably priced. Due to this the sale of Indian agarbattis has declined considerably.
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