Agarwood practice and rural livelihoods in Naharani area of Golaghat District, Assam, North-East India
Agarwood is a highly valuable aromatic plant variety mostly found in the tropical forest. The people of Assam have been practicing Agarwood cultivation and its trade for several decades. In this paper, an attempt has been made to investigate the indigenous knowledge system associated with the agar trade, i.e., detection of agar bearing plants, collection, processing, extraction of oil, and marketing of agarwood and its livelihood opportunities for the rural people. Naharani, a micro area with a few revenue villages located in the Golaghat district of Assam, has been selected for the study. This area is the hub of the Agar trade, and the local people have inherited this tradition from their ancestors. For this study, visit to different household industries, site observation, interviews with the people engaged in agar trade, and household surveys were carried out during 2016 and 2018. A simple random sampling technique was used for the selection of the sample household. Data have been collected from the randomly selected 975 households with a well-structured schedule-cum-questionnaire. Sustainable livelihood framework analysis was done to measure the livelihood assets of the people. It has been found that the agar trade and its associated practices have a significant contribution to the socio-economic condition of the rural people. As agarwood is now rarely found in the wild state, people have used to plant it in their homesteads and also developed plantation sites for its sustainable production. The homestead cultivation of agarwood and its trade alone contributes about 15-60% to the total annual income of the households. Although agarwood cultivation is commercially viable and sustainable, the farmers and traders are currently facing lots of hurdles to properly carry out their business in Assam.
Agarwood; Processing of agar; Rural livelihood; Sustainability
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