The first batch of 25,000 live agarwood-producing tree seedlings imported from India has arrived in the Philippines, according to the managing director of Iba Botanicals.
“With today’s arrival from India by air, Iba Botanicals has become the world’s first importer of live agarwood plants in full compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) “said Ben Mead, founder and CEO of Iba Botanicals. Business Mirror.
Agarwood is the most expensive forest product in the world. Agarwood chips, made from the heartwood of Aquilaria species like Aquilaria Malaccensis or known locally as lapnisan, a species that occurs naturally in the Philippines, can fetch up to $100,000 the kilo.
However, Lapnisan is also an endangered species, which is why the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) strictly prohibits the wild harvesting of agarwood or any of the sub- Lapnisan products.
As part of a strategy to prevent its extinction in the wild, the DENR, through its Biodiversity Management Office (BMB), is promoting the commercialization of Aquilaria trees. However, this requires those interested in venturing into the establishment of agarwood production to obtain all the necessary permits from the relevant government agencies, especially the DENR-BMB.
Among the first to obtain special permits to import and establish lapnisan in the Philippines, Iba Botanicals, which through its advocacy encourages institutions and individuals to venture into agarwood production as business partners.
“We plan to set up agarwood plantations in Lipa, Batangas and Mindanao,” Mead said.
This year alone, Iba Botanicals has a permit to import 350,000 live agarwood-producing plants. In the coming months, the company said the seedlings will arrive in the country.
Mead said he met strict regulatory requirements when importing agarwood-producing tree seedlings.
“We had to get permits from 8 different agencies in India and 3 here in the Philippines,” he said.
Iba Botanicals is a pioneer in the Philippine essential oil and natural extract industries. Among its products are Ylang Ylang essential oils, Vetiver oil and Elemi essential oil.
It plans to produce agarwood chips and essential oils in the next few years while reselling its imported agarwood-producing tree seedlings to institutional and individual buyers.