Lac resin is natural, biodegradable, nontoxic and hence finds application in food, textiles and pharmaceutical industries. As now-a-days, there is increased stress on the use of eco-friendly, safe material for human contact and consumption lac is high in demand. Lac production is a source of livelihood for tribal and poor people of forest and sub forest regions of India.
India held virtual monopoly of lac until 1950 and accounted for about 85% of the world’s production of sticklac. Currently it has come down to 50-60%. After 1950, Thailand became the main competitor of India. Other countries like Africa, Australia, Brazil, Burma, Sri Lanka, China, France, Japan and West Germany also produce lac.
Still India has great potential for lac cultivation. The areas for lac cultivation can be classified into three categories which are as follows:
Regular lac cultivation areas: Only 20-25% of the total available host trees are being used
Moderate lac cultivation areas: Around 10-15% of available host trees are being used
Un-utilized areas: Though host trees are available, they are not utilized due to lack of knowledge and awareness
On the whole only 15% of the total available lac host trees owned by farmers are used for lac cultivation. There are vast untapped trees,, which are ecologically favorable for lac production in our country. If exploited properly in scientific manner these areas would enhance the lac production capacity of India.
The production of raw lac in India is approximately 20,000 metric tonnes per year. Lac culture has been a good source of foreign revenue. The major lac producing states in India are Jharkhand- 57%, Chhattisgarh- 23% and West Bengal- 12%. Other minor producers include Odisha, Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Other states like Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan etc. have shown increased production of lac. Approximately three million tribals inhabiting in these areas have taken up lac cultivation.
In 1925, Indian Lac Research Institute (currently named as Indian Institute of Natural resins and Gums) is been established at Namkurn, Ranchi. This institute produces good quality of white lac. Indian White lac is supposed to be better than red or other colored lac as the colored lac leaves stains at the places where they are kept.
India fetches about Rs. 120-130 crores of foreign currency through export of lac every year. Out of total lac produced in India 85-95% is exported especially to Britain, USA, Russia and West Germany. Export of Lac from India is mainly in the form of shellac, button lac, seed lac, dewaxed lac, bleached lac and Aleuritic lac.
While enhancing production quantity, quality also needs equal emphasis to meet the national and international demands. The lac suffers quality for the reasons like untimely harvesting, lack of appropriate storage, primary processing soon after harvesting and lack of appropriate processing machinery. These problems need urgent attention and can be addressed by adopting scientific recommendations developed by Indian Institute of Natural resins and Gums.
- Explain the importance of lac with reference to India.
- Write the economics of lac production in India.
- How can the lac production be increased in India.
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