Gaharu factory ready to operate
THE agarwood (gaharu) processing factory in Kampung Bengkurong is ready to operate as Brunei aims to become a regional hub for the production and export of the world’s most expensive wood.
Hj Mohd Ali Hj Dollah, managing director of Gaharu Berjaya Resources, yesterday announced that the construction of his agarwood processing factory has been completed. The local firm is preparing to cut down millions of wild trees.
“The completed factory is capable of carrying out all the work of processing the agarwood trees that will be cut down soon,” he said during a tree plantin g ceremony at the Jefri Bolkiah Mosque in Kg Batong.
Gaharu Berjaya Resources currently owns 87,000 agarwood trees planted in the country by local growers, in addition to an estimated 8.6 million agarwood trees planted across the island of Borneo.
As part of its diversification efforts, the managing director said Brunei could be the biggest agarwood collection centre in Southeast Asia by fulfilling the growing market demand of importers abroad.
“The worldwide demand for agarwood over the past 30 years has exceeded its supply, which is still short by 80 per cent. Agarwood’s price continues to increase from year to year up to the point where it is now more expensive than gold,” he said.
Demand for the precious wood mostly comes from countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Japan, Europe and the United States.
Hj Mohd Ali explained that agarwood, which forms in Aquilaria trees native to Southeast Asia, produces fragrant resin and oils that are used not only for the manufacturing perfume, but also in medicine and other products such as health supplements, green tea, cosmetics, prayer mats and beads.
Researchers have found 17 species of agarwood across the region including six species that have been identified in the Sultanate.
“By implementing new technology, we can harvest agarwood within a period of just five to seven years using natural methods, whereas previously the process would usually take several decades,” said the managing director.
He also called on the public to protect agarwood from unlicensed planting and poaching, an offence punishable by a $500,000 fine, five year imprisonment or both under the Wild Flora and Fauna Order.
“We have to continuously protect these trees as, over the last 80 years, a portion of wild agarwood trees found in a forest reserve in our country has been frequently stolen by irresponsible parties.
By protecting these agarwood trees, we can maintain its existence for generations to come,” he said.
During the tree planting ceremony yesterday, Gaharu Berjaya Resources donated 15 agarwood tree saplings to the Jefri Bolkiah Mosque.
The saplings were planted around the mosque by Hj Mohd Ali together with mosque executive committee member Dato Paduka Hj Ishak Hj Abdullah, Kg Batong village head Hj Saban Lamat as well as imams Ruzaimi Hj Bunal and Hj Asmat Hj Tuah.
Hj Mohd Ali said the donation intended to raise public awareness and understanding about agarwood trees with regards to its identification, protection, maintenance and products.
“With this donation, we hope the public will realise the importance of protecting and maintaining agarwood species as well as planting more agarwood trees to ensure its existence for future generations,” he said.
He also hoped the community can generate income by planting agarwood trees whilst enhancing the country's "greenery and image".
The Brunei Times