Nabawan to house largest agarwood estate

KOTA KINABALU: Nabawan is slated to house the largest agarwood (gaharu) estate in Sabah, following an agreement inked by the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) and Malaysian Nuclear Agency (Nuclear Malaysia) recently.

The document signed by SLDB general manager Jhuvarri Majid and Nuclear Malaysia director general Datuk Dr Daud Mohamad called for the development of the agarwood industry in Sabah and the setting up of an essential oil (agarwood) extraction plant in Nabawan, SLDB said in a statement here.

It also called for the development of a 40ha plot of land in Nabawan with commercial agarwood to help provide jobs for the people in the area.

So far, SLDB has planted 20,000 trees on a piece of land in Litang, Lahad Datu, with a joint venture partner.

Daud said the venture was the first between the two agencies and that Nuclear Malaysia, with the latest technology at its disposal, could help introduce to Sabah fast growing agarwood trees, which could mature in a shorter period and produce even more resin.

“We will be involved in both the upstream (opening up of plantations) as well as downstream sectors of the agarwood industry and this strategic partnership with SLDB augurs well as our new partners have the land and the capacity to open a commercial scale plantation,” he said in the statement.

Daud said a litre of agarwood oil could fetch between RM30,000 and RM35,000 in the open market.

The agarwood industry is worth RM3bil worldwide and Malaysia is currently the second largest producer in the world.

Meanwhile, Jhuvarri said Sabah was losing an untold fortune in wild agarwood to foreign poachers who paid local villagers money to collect the resin and take them to the border for processing and export.

He said wild agarwood fetched premium prices overseas but the collectors were paid pittance for their hard and often dangerous work, having to search deep in the wild forests. – Bernama.

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