According to the chief executive of Iba Botanicals, the first shipment of 25,000 live agar tree seedlings imported from India has arrived in the Philippines.
“With the arrival from India today by air, Iba Botanicals has become the world’s first importer of live agar tree seedlings in full compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),” said Ben Meade, founder and CEO of Iba Botanicals. BusinessMirror.
Agar wood is the most expensive forest product in the world. Agar wood chips, obtained from the heartwood of Aquilaria species such as Aquilaria Malaccensis or locally known as lapnisan, which is a natural species in the Philippines, can cost up to $100,000 per kilogram.
However, lapnisan is also an endangered species, so the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) strictly prohibits the collection of wild agarwood or any by-products of lapnisan.
As a strategy to prevent its extinction in the wild, DENR, through its Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), is promoting the commercialization of Aquilaria trees. However, those interested in establishing an agarwood production are required to obtain all necessary permits from the relevant government authorities, in particular from DENR-BMB.
One of the first to receive special permits to import and grow lapnisana in the Philippines is Iba Botanicals, which, through its advocacy, encourages institutions and individuals to get involved in the production of agarwood as partners of the company.
“We are planning to set up agar tree plantations in Lipa, Batangas and Mindanao,” Mead said.
This year alone, Iba Botanicals received permission to import 350,000 live agarwood seedlings. The company said the seedlings would arrive in the country in the next few months.
Meade said they followed strict regulatory requirements when importing tree seedlings that produce agarwood.
“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 industry. Her products include ylang ylang essential oils, vetiver herb oil and elemi essential oil.
In the next few years, the company plans to produce agar wood chips and essential oils, as well as resell imported agar tree seedlings to institutional and individual buyers.