Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tien Phuoc farmers harvest sandalwood

Tien Phuoc farmers harvest sandalwood
QUANG NAM — Farmers in the Tien Phuoc District of the central coastal province of Quang Nam are looking forward to improved fortunes, due to a shift in traditional farming methods.
The hope for prosperity will be achieved through the exploitation of tram huong (or eaglewood) from gio (aquilaria crassna) trees planted in their own gardens.
The gio tree is believed to create the famous eaglewood by producing a kind of resin that collects in a hollow in the tree trunk.
There is wide-spread excitement about the shift, which will see a reduction in reliance on trees grown in natural forests and the salvation of the species, which has recently been entered in the Viet Nam Botanical Red Book.
Forests containing large numbers of the gio trees were first discovered fifteen years ago by those hunting for tram huong but have since become depleted by excessive call for the dried fragrant resin.
However, local farmers have rescued the trees, transplanting and nurturing them, making Tien Phuoc the national cradle for eaglewood.
One of the first to pioneer the new method of home-growing is Nguyen Quoc Trinh from the Tien My Commune.
"In 1985, seeing people rush to exploit tram huong heavily, I thought that all the gio trees would be destroyed. The trees are precious, why shouldn’t we plant them ? If we plant them for a long time, they can create tram huong for us," Trinh said. He therefore began small-scale, by planting three trees from which to harvest seeds, setting a precedent for other local farmers.
Farmers in the region experimented by encouraging formation of tram huong in gio trees by driving small iron pieces into the trees, around which tram huong would be formed.
Although initially the amount of tram huong created was small, and quality was low, the experiment proved that intervention could prove successful. Once local residents saw the potential of the experiments, many people began to gather young saplings to cultivate them in their homes.
In 1995, Nguyen Hoang Huy, a tram huong hunter in Tien Ky Commune successfully introduced a chemical catalyst into gio trees to create tram huong.
Each tree was then found to create about 10 kg of tram huong, which, with manipulation, has now been improved to such a degree that each gio tree now creates about 40 kg per year. The trees have been found to thrive because the average rate of living trees is from 80 to 90 per cent.
The district now boasts an impressive trade and has various tram huong processing workshops, attracting a large number of traders from other localities, both inside and outside the province – thus creating a "fever" for tram huong trading from the end of last year to date.
Huy has also co-ordinated with farmers in the nearby Nui Thanh District to set up a farm for planting 2,000 gio trees.
According to Tien Phuoc District Gardeners’ Association, from 1995 to 2000, the district has planted about 80,000 gio trees, and it is expected that the number will sharply increase this year. — VNS

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