Hike in bamboo import duty has become an incentive for domestic industry, says MDPH official bl-premium-article-image

Subramani Ra Mancombu Updated - January 10, 2024 at 08:48 PM.

The Centre’s decision to hike the import duty on bamboo has become a “big incentive” for the domestic industry to manufacture bamboo sticks and invest more in the sector, says Anshul Agrawal, Director, Mysore Deep Perfumery House (MDPH).

MDPH is one of the top three agarbatti manufacturers in India with its flagship brand Zed Black selling 15,00,000 agarbatti and dhoopbatti packets daily across India. 

The Centre raised the import duty on bamboo from 10 per cent 25 per cent in 2020 even as it declassified the material as a grass. Earlier, it was treated as a forest produce, curbing its use.  

Anshul Agrawal, Director, Mysore Deep Perfumery House
Reducing import dependence

“This has helped to plant the right species and in a couple of years, we can begin making bamboo sticks catering to the agarbatti and other industries. We want to be a company which sources most of its raw materials from India itself,” Agrawal said. 

As bamboo was classified as a forest produce, the right bamboo species could not be planted in the country then. In particular, the agarbatti industry needs round bamboo sticks that can be easily used in machines making the incense sticks. 

As India is MDPH’s major market, it does not want to depend on imports and there is nothing to set off against these shipments, he said.  

The company uses over 10 tonnes of bamboo a day to manufacture agarbattis, translating to nearly 3,000 tonnes a year. “The bamboo is sourced from the North-East as well as Vietnam, which is the major contributor,” he said.  

Expanding Shipra unit

MDPH, which has modern machines at its units based near Indore in Madhya Pradesh, will increase the total area of its unit at Shipra in the central Indian state to 3.5 lakh sq ft by March from the current two lakh sq ft. 

The Shipra unit is used for making finished goods, with the raw agarbattis being made at the Ram Pipliya Unit. “All the dipping and everything is done there (Shipra). All the packaging branding is done there and then it is shipped across India daily,” the MDPH official said. 

The company, which currently has 4,000 workers on roll with 80 per cent of them women, will increase its labour force in the Shipra unit by another 400 to the current 800 employed there, he said. 

Extending products range

“We don’t have any labour contractor in between, no casual labour, no indirect labour. All workers are on our payroll getting salaries in their bank account,” Agrawal said. 

MDPH plans to extend its reach in households instead of being confined to just the pooja (prayer) room. “Now, we wish to be a part of every corner of the household as we feel our expertise lies in creating the best fragrances customers like,” he said.  

The company, which has cricketer MS Dhoni and actor Hrithik Roshan as its brand ambassadors, has entered the handwash, dishwash and other products segments such as confectionery, mainly based on flavours. “It is one thing we have been trying to do in the last 1-½ years,” Agrawal said, adding that Dhoni has been associated with the Zed Black brand for over six years now and Roshan three years. 

Turning professional firm

MDPH, which exports to over 45 countries, is looking to expand to Brazil and a few other countries. Recently, it entered Morocco. Agrawal said the company faced ocean freight issues post-Covid and currently, it is facing problems due to the unrest in the Middle-East.  

Besides bamboo, MDPH uses joss powder and charcoal powder, which are natural raw materials. The company also makes fragrances from aromatic chemicals, essential oils and aromatic powders. 

“Earlier, we were an agarbatti manufacturing company with the business being managed by the family. We are now on a transition path into an FMCG company and a professionally-run business,” he said.  

A year-and-a-half ago, MDPH launched pooja products and they received a good response. Similarly, the handwash and dishwash products have received good response, he said.

Published on January 10, 2024 14:36

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