Bidi Industry – An overview
The bidi industry impacts our economy to a large extent, yet is somewhat misunderstood and quite unknown. Not only does the bidi industry employ six times as many workers than its fancy cousin – Cigarettes – but also quantifies to bear a tremdous socio-economic significance in employment generation in India, yielding an average of 1310 million man days of employment.
The Indian bidi industry employs over 6 million and is worth INR 100-150 billion …
A large part of our human resource sources its livelihood through employment in various organized and unorganized sectors such as the cottage and agricultural industries. Nearly 70% of Indians still reside in rural areas and are largely depend on agriculture for survival and 90% of the working population in our country, especially in rural areas, is employed by the cottage industry and which is a major source of income for them.
As stated by Ministry of Industry, Government of India in press statement dated 20th January, 2006: “It would be unrealistic to view tobacco purely as a health problem and ignore the economic and social fall-outs of tobacco control… we have to bear in mind the employment and livelihood of the large numbers engaged in tobacco cultivation and production. If we do not conceive of tobacco control as a comprehensive package, our attempts at intervention may become self-defeating… the community at large has to be fully informed and involved”.
A Few more industry statistics
Out of the nearly one crore people involved in the industry, around 60 lakh are directly employed in the rolling of bidi activity. The rest are tendu leaves cultivators in the forest areas of the country.
Maharashtra is home to around 2.5 to 3 lakh of this workforce. Solapur district alone employs nearly 65,000 workers in different activities of bidi industry.
Bidi is a home-based industry and 95 per cent of its workers are women.
The entire process of bidi manufacturing is by human hands and no mechanical operation is involved.
Bidi products are 100 per cent natural with low nicotine and tar percentages
Bidi is an important source of income, for women’ earnings constitute on an average 45 to 50% of the total income.
All these factors demonstrate the bidi industry’s tremendous growth potential which is being driven primarily by various factors like high level of employment, sustained levels of growth in agriculture sector, women empowerment, natural resources management, revenue generation, upgrading of skills and education.