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Friday August 27, 2010

Corporate man now an agarwood producer

HAVING spent 18 years in the corporate world, Edmond Liew was convinced the time was right for him to quit his job and invest in the ‘black gold of the forest’.

“A friend introduced me to agarwood, the plants that produce fragrant oleoresin, and I decided to jump onto the bandwagon,” he said.

Now a director of Eco Midori, Liew paired up with a partner and a professional team from Thailand to manage an agarwood plantation in Seremban.

It has been two years and he is ready to share his experience and technical know-how with more people.

“It is not a business for only the rich. Farmers and white-collar workers too can get into the business,” the Johorean said.

Precious woods: The wood chips of agarwood tree can also be traded.

Liew explained that in order for an agarwood tree to produce oleoresin, it has to be treated with vaccines when it reaches five years-old.

“As part of its self-defense system, the tree will react to the vaccines and form dark, resinous patches.

“The tree will be harvested two years later and the oleoresin is obtained through hydraullic extraction.

“Oleoresin of higher grade, which is darker, is made into powder while the rest is made into gaharu oil. Its bark and wood chips can also be traded,” he said.

Liew added that every 10kg of the wood could produce 12g of gaharu oil, which fetches a good price at RM300 per 12g.

The tree is valued for its medicinal and therapeutic properties.

It can be used as medicine, perfumes, incense, sculptures, beads, boxes, shampoos and essential oils.

Spreading the word: Liew shares his experience and know-how in agarwood plantation.

Agarwood is known as eaglewood, aloeswood and gaharu too.

Realising the economic values, the Kelantan government launched a project in 2007 to encourage individuals to cultivate the trees.

Liew said in Malaysia, most of the wild agarwood trees are found in East Malaysia and their numbers are dwindling as they are highly sought after for their resin.

“Like rubber trees, the agarwood trees are suitable to be planted on hilly lands,” he said.

In August and September, Eco Midori will be having seminars in Johor Baru, Batu Pahat, Kluang, Muar and Segamat.

For details, call 012-713 8899. (Liew).

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