KUALA TERENGGANU (NST): The state Forestry Department is on the hunt for a local form of inoculation to speed up “gaharu” production and its industry here.
Inoculation of the agarwood or “karas” tree helps accelerate the process of infection which in turn leads to better yield of the aromatic resin. Traditionally, tappers slash the tree for it to be infected.
It is estimated that a “karas” tree takes between 10 and 15 years to produce “gaharu”, but with inoculation, it takes only between two and three years.
State Forestry Department director Nor Akhirruddin Mahmud said the current vaccines used were costly as they were imported from the United States and Thailand, and could only be used selectively.
This has slowed the production of “gaharu”, which is mainly used in the perfume trade. Two years ago, the price ranged between RM8,000 and RM10,000 a kilogramme.
While the economic value of an adult tree is still being researched here, on average, it can yield up to RM18,000 a kg after harvesting in Thailand and Indonesia.
The New Straits Times reported in 2007 that the state is sitting on a goldmine, because in four years’ time, it stands to earn more than RM500 million in revenue from a 47ha site at the Merchang forestry station holding 40,000 seedlings.
It is also used medicinally as a remedy for nervous disorders such as neurosis, obsessive behaviour and exhaustion.
“Despite the state’s huge potential to become a hub for gaharu production, we are still lagging behind other countries like Thailand and Singapore as we have overlooked its economic value.
“But this does not mean we cannot be part of the industry. That is why we want to come up with a local inoculation which could encourage more participants in the industry,” he told the NST recently.
Currently, the department is working closely with the Malaysian Nuclear Institution for a local substance but is open to other solutions. Nor Akhirruddin said the department was hoping to come up with its own form of vaccine in the next two years.
The department was also trying to encourage people to grow agarwood.