KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Asia Plantation Capital says it completed an agarwood planting, part of its planned expansion in Malaysia.
The company formed a joint venture to manage a large specialist agarwood plantation located near Kuala Lumpur, where the Aquilaria Sinensis species is being grown specifically for the high value market in China. A state of the art distillation and wood chip processing factory in Johor has also been built.
Agarwood has been in the news recently in Malaysia, due to the number of illegally harvested agarwood seizures made by government officials, along with a spate of arrests. It's clear that the market has changed significantly in recent times, with the demand for sustainable and legal agarwood now firmly established and growing.
In many areas, agarwood in the wild has been logged almost to the point of extinction, due to its high value and the attendant illegal logging. Asia Plantation Capital is one of the few companies in this sector actively developing a legal, sustainable, and 'clean' agarwood industry, and hopes to develop further into other new markets and countries.
In addition to agarwood, also known as gaharu, Asia Plantation Capital says it cultivates and grows other high value timber species and crops, and will adapt the systems and technologies it has pioneered and developed over the last decade in Thailand, India and Sri Lanka to its Malaysian venture. .
In the Kingdom of Thailand, Asia Plantation Capital now owns and manages more than 1.5 million agarwood trees as part of its expanding global portfolio of over 7.5 million trees. The company has a range of estates in its portfolio stretching from Sakhon Nakhon in the north- east, to Hua Hin in the south, making Asia Plantation Capital the largest commercial grower in Thailand today, employing (in peak seasons), more than 1,000 people.
In Malaysia, Asia Plantation Capital has now planted a total of 13,400 Aquilaria Malaccensis and Aquilaria Crassna saplings on the new Batu Pahat plantation, as phase one of its ongoing project. The second phase will begin planting immediately, leading to a total of around 27,000 trees being planted, to accompany a state of the art nursery that will be established to house approximately 500,000 saplings.
Situated 100 kilometres north of Johor Bahru, and 5 kilometres from Junction 241 on the North-South Expressway, the plantation is ideally located for visitors and students from Singapore, Johor and Kuala Lumpur, as well as other local and regional growers. The facility is considered by Asia Plantation Capital to be a showcase plantation that demonstrates and utilizes the very latest techniques in planting and husbandry. The plantation boasts 24-hour security, and ultra-modern surveillance systems; not only to look out for any unwelcome visitors, but also to monitor the progress of the saplings.
Asia Plantation Capital Berhad's CEO, Steve Watts,said the Malaysian investment totals $50 million.
"We wish to position Malaysia at the forefront of the global development in agarwood/gaharu," he said. "This includes not only our new factory in Johor, where we have our own distillery - as well facilities to produce infused wood chips and other agarwood related products - but also includes the acquisition of our own plantations and a number of joint ventures with local planters; specifically those who have stock, but no access to the all-important inoculation processes."
Watts says the company is also forming a joint venture with the Islamic University in Gombak, to explore the agarwood as a treatment for cancer-related illnesses. This will include a plantation managed by Asia Plantation Capital, but owned by the University. Asia Plantation Capital says its Malaysian products have already been conferred with Sharia Compliance status by the IBFIM."
Part of the company's strategy is to share information and help educate local growers on the systems needed to achieve the best commercial and environmental results from agarwood plantations. Very few of these growers, if any, have the fully vertically integrated business model that Asia Plantation Capital operates, all the way through to its own retail and wholesale outlets in all the key markets.
"The company plans to offer an 'outgrower' programme to local growers," Watt said. "By working with local growers we will be able to expand, and at the same time help educate and demonstrate the benefits of the systems and the detailed research we have conducted over the last decade. Phase 1 of this programme started last year, with us inoculating mature trees in Johor with our proprietary systems, and, more recently, those outside Kuala Lumpur. The early results have already proven that we have a serious advantage over other systems in the market."
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