Agarbathi industry has been growing many folds since its inception and has evolved into a vibrant cottage industry over the years. The driving force for this growth has been various aspects like religious rituals and festivals, increased inclination towards meditation and yoga, which has made the usage of agarbathi an important aspect in everyday lives.
Traditional Agarbathi handrolling
The history and tradition of burning incense sticks and dashanga goes back to thousands of years and has been a part of every civilization. Incense or agarbathi was used as an object of trade in ancient times as they had a special importance during religious ceremonies. Its aesthetic appeal has resulted in its wide usage everywhere across the globe. With changing times, agarbathi has also changed its form owing to reasons like advanced technology, diverse underlying culture, and emerging trends in usage.
Mr. Sarath Babu, AIAMA (All India Agarbathi Manufacturers Association), said, “Agarbathi industry employs over 20 lakh people in the country out of which 80% of them being women. Karnataka state alone employees nearly half the numbers. The women associated are engaged in manufacturing and packaging of incense sticks which has helped increase their financial stability. With the Indian festive season nearing in a months’ time, we foresee a surge in demand for the sector and to address the same AIAMA members across regions are working towards training more and more women and rural population in agarbathi making.”
Agarbathi is a labour-intensive industry with each incense stick being handcrafted, predominantly by women workers. Karnataka alone employees around 10 lakh women for various segments of agarbathi making including rolling, packaging and bamboo processing. The industry has long been benefiting from this resource. In the past few years, there has been a rise in training for activities like agarbathi manufacturing that has promoted economic independence, and employment for a large number of people, especially women seeking economic independence.
In the last three years, the Indian agarbathi industry has witnessed immense growth in both exports and domestic demand. Moreover, being an export oriented industry; agarbathi export industry has grown at a CAGR of 15% in the past four years. The total market is expected to grow exponentially and reach INR 12,000 crore in the next five years.
About All India Agarbathi Manufacturers Association (AIAMA)
Established in the year 1949 as MOMA (Mysore Oodabathi Manufacturers’ Association) by seven founding members, AIAMA has been working tirelessly towards encouraging the growth of Agarbathi industry and allied products in India. In the early 80’s, with increased interest and participation of manufacturers from other Indian states, MOMA was renamed to ‘All India Agarbathi Manufacturers Association’ (AIAMA). With head office in Bengaluru, at present more than 700 Agarbathi manufacturers across India are life members with AIAMA. The association has been aggressively working with the industry peers, policy makers and government bodies to address various issues of the Agarbathi and allied industries. Association’s efforts are not only restricted to the support and growth of Agarbathi industry in the domestic market, but also to drive for demand growth in the international markets.