KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has the potential to be a major supplier of gaharu, also known as agarwood or “wood of the gods,” and at the same time use the venture for poverty eradication.
Nabawan's hilly terrain has been identified as suitable for commercial plantations of gaharu.
The Sabah Land Development Board has started a 20ha trial plot in Lahad Datu. It is working closely with a local-based company, Sudahgaharu Sdn Bhd, to come up with a working model to establish commercial viability.
“Commercially planting gaharu can bring revenue to the state. It can also be incorporated into the reforestation programme,” said board general manager Jhuvarri Majid.
Recently a Thai company based in Kelantan, Sahabat Pertanian AT Thai (M) Sdn Bhd, visited Sabah and expressed interest to initiate a joint venture for planting gaharu.
A 405ha piece of land has been earmarked for the planting of gaharu. Work on the first phase of 40ha is expected to begin soon.
Sahabat Pertanian AT Thai managing director Reekruelee Jehwae said the gaharu tree takes seven years to mature. After that, the trunk is inoculated with a special formula to induce resin production, to be harvested after between nine and 12 months.
Reekruelee said prices ranged from a few US dollars per kilo for the lowest quality to over US$30,000 (RM104,000) per kilo for top quality oil and resinous wood.“Current supply can only meet some 20% of world demand. The Middle Eastern countries are the major buyers,” he said.
Resinous wood is used as incense and for medicinal purposes. Pure resin in distilled form is used for making perfume.