HCM CITY — The Viet Nam Agarwood Association should work with relevant agencies to seek effective measures so that growers could feel secure in their cultivation, delegates said at conference in HCM City on Saturday.
The main product of the aquilaria crassna tree is agarwood, a resinous product that has traditionally been used as incense and medicine. Its distilled pure resin is used in perfumes.
Ngo Duy Tu, head of the Tan Phu Agarwood Club in Dong Nai Province, said cultivating aquilaria crassna trees can generate good profits for farmers but could also leave them empty handed if they applied improper technology or low-quality chemicals for making agarwood.
There were many methods and chemicals to make agarwood from the aquilaria crassna tree, however, many of them had proved ineffective since the yield was low and even killed the tree, Tu said.
About 10 kinds of chemicals for making agarwood have been introduced in the province but many of them were of poor quality, he said.
He said there were more than 100,000 aquilaria crassna trees in his locality and about half of them had been injected with chemicals in an attempt to get agarwood. However, as many as 90 per cent of the injected trees became "victims".
The situation is similar in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, with many aquilaria crassna trees dying after chemicals were injected into them to make agarwood, said a representative of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Agarwood Association.
Tran Hop, chairman of the association, said the biggest challenge facing the industry was finding the most effective method to produce agarwood.
The association would strengthen co-operation with foreign partners as well as local scientists to choose best seedlings and methods to make the fragrant wood.
In addition, he said, localities should have zoning plans for agar tree cultivation and help growers with capital.
With its long production circle of about 10 years, planters need capital support to sustain, he said.
Demand for agarwood in the world market is set to remain high while supply is expected to shrink, said Thai Thanh Luom, chairman of the Kien Giang Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment.
Agarwood sold in the world market used to be obtained from natural sources, with main suppliers being Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
However, the natural agarwood source has been exhausted. For instance, Indonesia's agarwood export dropped from 661 tonnes in 1993 to 302 tonnes in 1997, he said.
Viet Nam exported several hundred tonnes of agarwood a year in the 1986-1990 period. Foreign buyers preferred Vietnamese agarwood because of its high quality, he said.
And like other countries, Vietnamese natural agarwood source has also been exhausted, so "we turned to planting agar trees to create artificial agarwood."
To help improve plantation efficiency, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should come up with an orientation plan for agar tree development and better manage seedlings as well as supply of chemicals used in making agarwood, he said.
Hop said the association would work to ensure outlets for agar tree planters, noting that there was high demand for agarwood in Middle Eastern countries. — VNS