Agartala: The Tripura government has decided to open a special "Agar Conservation Foundation" division to promote cultivation of Agar trees to boost employment and to earn foreign money, a Minister said here on Friday.

"After a one day workshop-cum-interactive programme here on Thursday, it was decided to set up an "Agar Conservation Foundation" division under the Forest Department to promote cultivation of Agar trees to boost employment and to earn foreign money," Tripura Forest and Tribal Welfare Minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia told the media.

He said that by extensive cultivation of Agar trees, the state government is keen to boost the trade of Agar oil, a main ingredient of perfume manufacturing industry.

Agar wood has also been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and continues to be used in Ayurvedic medicines, said Pawan K. Kaushik, scientist at Forest Research Centre for Livelihood Extension here.

"Agar oil is an export-oriented product and the demand is very high in the international market. The large gap in the demand-supply situation is due to the scarcity of raw materials, lack of favourable policy and schemes, and also due to lack of infrastructure and machinery for extraction of oil," he said.

The Forest Minister said that Tripura's capital Agartala was named after the Agar tree but now it is hardly found here or in other parts of the state.

"Some Agar trees are available in Agartala and other parts of the state but the owners are not getting proper economic support due to various reasons, including proper scientific processing and value addition," he said.

"Extensive cultivation of Agar trees would bring economic empowerment to the people, including the tribals, and boost rural livelihood. The government has been working on identifying the issues and opportunities to develop this high-potential sector for the benefit of people," Jamatia added.

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