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Demand to establish Agar Board in state

By Correspondent

JORHAT, March 19 - Addressing a press conference here today, office bearers of All Sanchi Growers� Association of Assam said that they were disappointed over the silence of the Congress-led state government in framing an agarwood policy for the state and its alleged intervention in the draft policy, which was framed in 2014 by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

According to the general secretary of the association Bikash Bora, the black-market of agar oil was tapped by a small group and the government allowed them to mint money freely.

Ahead of the Assembly poll, the members of the association said that they cannot support political leaders who had overlooked the interest of the farmers who have been producing tons of quality materials for agar oil for several decades in the state.

Participating in the press conference, the president of well-known NGO Himalayan Chipko Foundation and Ashoka Fellow Jaya Prakash Dabral said that government should set up an Agar Board on the line of Tea Board as the agar crop generates good revenue like tea in the state.

He also said that the state was not exporting a single rupee of agarwood yet, though a government report of 2003-04 stated that there were 9100 extraction units in the state.

�In 2003-04, the government had also said that there were about one crore agarwood trees existing on private land. The minimal price that a grower gets is Rs 5000-10,000. Given this conservative estimate, Assam is sitting on a Rs 5000 crore market. If the other states of north-east are taken into account, this could be as big as Rs 10,000 crore. The annual revenue from tea is about Rs 15,000 crore,� he said.

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