Small-scale Agar (Aquilaria agallocha Roxb.) Based Cottage Enterprises in Maulvibazar District of Bangladesh: Production, Marketing and Potential Contribution to Rural Development


Globally, trade in agar-based products is growing rapidly due to their recent adoption as an ingredient in the cosmetics and pharmaceuticals sector. In Bangladesh, people living in some north-eastern districts have been engaged in the production, processing and trading of such products for several decades. These practices, which they consider as the lifeblood of their existence, have been inherited from their ancestors. This paper reports a case study carried out in Maulvibazar district exploring the production and marketing, and industry problems, of agar-based enterprises and their potential contribution to socio-economic development. An exploratory survey was undertaken over 30 randomly selected agar-based factories during December 2005–April 2006, with entrepreneurs of the factories personally interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. The majority of the factories of the area were found to depend on local sources of raw materials to produce agar-based products. About 514 full and part-time workers are employed in the factories. Average annual expenditure, revenue and net annual income per factory for three consecutive years 2003–2005 of the study were estimated as Tk 63,980, Tk 111,414 and Tk 47,435, respectively, being highest where attar (agar oil) of superior grade was produced for export. There appears to be a sustainable source of raw materials, availability of technical and financial assistance and opportunity for expansion of market facilities to secure the maximum benefit achievable from this highly promising industry.

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  1. 1.

    $US1 equals approximately 69 Bangladeshi Taka (Tk), as at November 2007.


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We wish to acknowledge the support provided by the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh, Thanks also due to the responsible editor Dr. Steve Harrison of the University of Queensland and Dr. Narayan Saha, Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, for their innumerable efforts and advice to enhance the quality of this manuscript. Finally, the heartiest cooperation provided by the people of the study areas during fieldwork is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Sharif A. Mukul.

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Uddin, M.S., Mukul, S.A., Khan, M.A.S.A. et al. Small-scale Agar (Aquilaria agallocha Roxb.) Based Cottage Enterprises in Maulvibazar District of Bangladesh: Production, Marketing and Potential Contribution to Rural Development. Small-scale Forestry 7, 139–149 (2008).

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  • Small enterprises
  • Labour condition
  • Attar
  • Secondary products
  • Marketing channel
  • Income generation