The rapidly expanding Indian agarbathi sector is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1 percent between 2021 and 2026. The consumption of agarbathi has transcended traditional, ritualistic usages and beliefs to modern and practical ones. This has naturally resulted in a massive demand for incense sticks worldwide. With exports crossing over INR 900 crores in the previous financial year and demands reaching an all-time-high, the Indian agarbathi industry is flourishing like never before. Steering this extraordinary growth is the All India Agarbathi Manufacturers’ Association (AIAMA), that works relentlessly to uphold the standards of the agarbathi that is locally produced as it helms the industry’s overall evolution.
Apart from placing India on the global map as one of the top agarbathi producers, our industry has also been instrumental in generating employment and easing poverty in many rural households all over India. It has helped the underprivileged and marginalised sections of the society earn their livelihood, as well as financially empowered thousands of women through employment. As part of its mission, the AIAMA has been actively training its workforce in agarbathi rolling and other aspects of the trade over the years.
The incense sticks industry is labour-intensive, in the sense that each stick is handcrafted. The AIAMA has capitalised on this factor to empower as many rural women as possible. It trains women to become agarbathi makers and traders. As a result, they earn fair wages by making agarbathi from their home and achieve financial independence and dignified lives while benefiting their families.
In addition to creating a regular source of income for rural women, AIAMA helps strengthen their capability by providing free training in various agarbathi-making skills. So far, more than 3,00,000 women from rural regions have been directly engaged in production either through micro-entrepreneurship or in manufacturing enterprises, accounting for over 80% of the total workforce. Additionally, members of AIAMA have created the Mysore Oodabathi Manufacturers’ Charitable Trust to maintain the welfare of these workers.
The organisation has scripted multiple success stories from all over the country. Given the fact that the agarbathi consumption in India is currently around 1790 MT per day compared to the output of only 760 MT, there is still a significant demand-supply mismatch. Hence, AIAMA seeks to envisions the prospect of employing women in larger numbers in the growing Indian agarbathi industry.