Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Artificial Aloe Wood - Gold still in BrassPosted: Friday, May 26, 2006
Aloe wood, product of aquilaria crassna plants, has been considered to have a high economic value for a long time. A simple calculation even those who have just begun to do business with aloe wood know clearly is that growing 1,000 aquilaria crassna plants on a hectares after six years may earn farmers profits of VND 3 billion.

Those plants which do not create aloe wood or their parts, including trunks and roots can be sold at high prices for those who make fragrant incenses.
According to scientists, there are 28 aquilaria species, capable of creating aloe wood. The most precious species is aquilaria crassna, available in four countries only, but concentrate most in Vietnam. Many people say that Huong Khe district, Ha Tinh province, may be the craddle of the plant.
Cash crop
Following the owner of enterprise which was selected by UNCTAD/SIPPO as beneficiary for its support within a programme on BIOTRADE, focusing mainly on aloe wood, we arrived in Huong Khe. The first man we met was Dang Huu Lien, director of the management board of the Ngan Sau protective forest, who has much experience of aloe wood. Lien said that Ha Tinh, and Huong Khe in particular had been considered to be home to aloe wood. In the 1984-1990 period, the district exploited 80 tonnes of aloe wood (the figure may be much higher - reporter), which were mainly transported to Ho Chi Minh City before being exported to Taiwan. In the 1990s, aquilaria crassna in natural forests were all destroyed. Even small plants were chopped off and sold as materials for incense making. Many people understood about the value of the plant and brought it to their gardens and farms.

Dynamic as he is, Lien has grown the plant on some hectares. His plantation has grown 200 hectares. Taking us for a watch, Lien pointed a forest which would be used for farming aquilaria crassna. The plant has become a hot issue in Ha Tinh.

As Lien said, in Phuc Trach commune, most families have between tens and thousands of aquilaria crassna plants. We learnt that an aquilaria crassna plant, capable of providing aloe wood, is priced between VND 7 million and 10 million. At present, many families in Huong Khe have considered the plant as their cash crop. The older the plant is the higher profits its owner earns. Le Van Ba in Phuc Trach said that his family had 50 plants aged of over ten years and many people had asked him to sell them, but the man answered he waited until his children join universities to sell the plants.

Tran Van Vinh, who used to collect natural aloe wood, has shifted to trading aquilaria crassna plants. He was one of the first people to grow aquilaria crassna plants in gardens and farms. The man also buy plants in gardens of other people then transplant aloe wood creators to plants then wait until the time to return to harvest aloe wood. Many rich people in Phuc Trach have followed Vinh's method. However, there is still a risk. Vinh said he recently lost five aquilaria crassna plants after aloe wood creators were transplanted, costing him around VND 20 million. However, Vinh said that he would get partly back as he would sell the plants to those who collect incense materials.

"Unclear" standardVinh's failure is not strange as to create aloe wood remains mysterious, needing time to learn about. There are two ways to create aloe wood. The first is to use chemicals while the second is a biological method. However, any optimal method has not been found yet.
Nguyen Quang Than, one of a famous people in aloe wood business with around 30,000 aquilaria crassna plants in Da Nang, said that it took him four years to perfect know-how, so he could transplant in plants aged between three and four and have aloe wood after 18 months. He said that he would not give other people his know-how. However, he hinted that it would be good to use trunk of aquilaria crassna to cover the transplantation areas.
Apart from Than, owners of aquilaria crassna gardens said that they had their own methods. However, whether their products are aloe wood or what similar to aloe wood remains unclear. There are two popular methods to test. The first is to burn aloe wood and test via its fragrance. The second is to test basic substance of wood in laboratories. The first method is popular in Vietnam. However, there is an idea that resin created by chemical and biological methods could be used only for incense making. This has a ground as some companies in the Republic of Korea and India have declared not to buy aloe wood created by chemical and biological methods.
There is a question whether scientists should research to find the conditions for aloe wood to be formed naturally on aquilaria crassna plants.
In medicine, aquilaria crassna can be used for treating mental and heart diseases. In cosmetic industry, the plant is used to keep fragrance. Also, its wood can be used to make fine arts or jewellery items.

The biggest markets include Japan, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, France and the Middle East.

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