Ha Noi — Viet Nam's geography and weather conditions have helped it become the most suited country for do bau or aquilaria tree planting in Southeast Asia, according to Chairman of the Viet Nam Agarwood Association Tran Hop.
| Do bau or aquilaria tree in Viet Nam - File photo
The quality of Vietnam's agarwood is among the best, according to a professor from Tokyo University. Aquilaria trees have great economic value, but tend to leave planters empty handed when they apply improper technology or low-quality chemicals.
The primary product of aquilaria trees is agarwood, a resinous product typically used as incense, medicine and perfumes.
While Viet Nam is capable of churning out high quality volumes of agarwood, tree growers are in dire need of technical assistances from relevant agencies to fully tap local industry potential, Hop said.
Planting such trees in different localities require specific techniques based on weather conditions and soil, said Director of the Tinh Dat Viet Company Ho Ngoc Vinh.
However, farmers complained of failing to access proper help, relying solely on their own experience, which often resulted in low output. When using substandard chemicals many trees also failed to grow, noted a Ba Ria-Vung Tau Agarwood Association agent.
Many have since called on the association to implement measures to secure tree production.
According to recently released figures, Viet Nam currently has about 15,000 and 18,000 ha of aquilaria plantations, equivalent to 15 million and 18 million over-one year old do bau trees. Covering an area of 3000 ha, central Ha Tinh Province has the largest number of trees.
With Do bau cultivation still to bring in large profits, some Dong Nai Province farmers have gained encouraging results, their three year old trees having received offers of VND6 million (about US$290) a sapling. Most refused to sell however, predicting their trees were worth at least VND10 million ($450) at 4,5 years old and VND20 million ($950) at over six.
Many believe Agarwood brings good fortune and health while its perfume lures warmth, solemnity and opulence.
The aquilaria, a fast growing tropical forest specie in danger of extinction, grows at altitudes of a few meters above sea level to about 1,000m, usually at its best around 500m. It can grow in a wide range of soils, but needs a lot of shade and water. The trees start producing fragrant white flowers and seeds as early as four years old and grow up to 40m high and 60cm in diameter.
Aquilaria trees are native to Asia and are found from Northern India to Vietnam and Indonesia. The healthy wood of the Aquilaria tree is white, soft, even-grained, and not scented when freshly cut. Under certain pathological conditions, the heartwood becomes saturated with resin, and eventually becomes hard to very hard. The best grade of agarwood is hard, nearly black and sinks when placed in water. — VNS