The persistent and culturally-embedded nature of demand for agarwood by endconsumers has placed the current global market at an estimated range of US $ 6 – 8 billion with rapid growth foreseen in the future. Resinous agarwood is extracted from Aquilaria trees and its unique fragrance is widely used in world-class perfumes, traditional medicine, incenses, aroma therapy and cosmetics.
Sadaharitha Plantation Ltd, Sri Lanka’s leading commercial forestry company, has the honour of being the pioneer of intelligent forestry investments and offering agarwood investor plans.
“Sadaharitha is the foremost company that introduced agarwood as a commercial forestry investment,” said Sadaharitha Plantations Ltd Chairman Sathis Navarathne.
This mantle is not held lightly as it firmly believes it is its duty to warn prospective investors of unscrupulous deceivers who promise rich dividends through agarwood investments. As forewarned by Sadaharitha, several companies have begun to emerge, including smaller nurseries, offering plants and seeds with the promise of producing agarwood.
Navarathne noted, “We have over 13 years’ experience in commercial forestry. Together with the National Research Council, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Australian Curtin University and Wescorp International Market Research, we spend time and effort towards researching agarwood. This shows it is not something to be taken lightly where one can simply take a small plant or import a few seeds and receive a good harvest.”
“Sadaharitha’s paramount concern is to make sure that the public is aware about new entrants, who do not possess the technology rights to harvest agarwood commercially. The public should avoid investing in copy cats, as it will not profit them in the end,” Navaratne stated.
“We want to protect this industry as it is very profitable for the average person. However, it is also an industry that gives back to the country through economic development, employment as well as back to Mother Nature.”
As an organisation which had delved deeply into agarwood production, Sadaharitha has overall superlative knowledge of its plants.
“We import seeds sourced from good mother. We have evidence and knowledge, awareness of the lineage of the plants. Also we transport the plants to the investors’ own land, department officials come on inspection and they give salient advice. This is given free of charge. However, other companies only directly sell the plants. They do not supply any of these,” he noted.
“We tell investors when choosing trees do so from trees which are guaranteed from good mother plants and using the appropriate technology they can receive the benefits of their investment.”
Other entrants offer plants “at a lower price; they also inform their clients that they also have the technology to produce agarwood. This we state is the main misnomer,” Navaratne said.
He explained, “Our plants are sold for Rs.1,400. The buyer looks and sees what he believes is the same plant for Rs.300, decides instead to buy the cheaper option. After planting, the buyer awaits several years to harvest agarwood followed by the realization it does not grow naturally but through a separate system.”
Further, clarifying the process he said, “After this realization the buyer begins to look to procure this system but it is not available to be purchased. Worse, the company that originally sold the plants has vanished or the company says another falsehood being they claim they have the technology.”
However, it is Sadaharitha which has ‘the patent and sole ownership’ of the available technology. Known as the Cultivated Agarwood Kit or the CA-Kit, covers the full patent. Contravening the sole ownership of this patent, the production of agarwood cannot take place.
“We are duty bound, to warn the population, create awareness and hopefully save investors from these incoming similar companies who do not understand what our patent covers. Or the risk they are placing their customers future in,” he said.
“People need to understand that even though they invest in the product, the repercussions will only be felt in six to seven years. At this point, they are caught in a trap and these repercussions can be felt by the entire industry too.”
“We have not left any room, any leverage, the patent covers all scenarios. We have covered all the possible methods from A-Z through the patent. There is absolutely no room to manoeuvre,” he stated.
According to Navaratne, “We well know that our technology is certain, there is a tendency to try and use other methods. Under intellectual property rights they will have to face legal action.”
His concern is “our people still lack awareness that this technology exists, what is the correct and apt technology and what is better suited. These companies also claim they have the market to sell the produce, with more falsehoods. Due to this lack of knowledge, they fall for these deceivers who cheat the investor.”
Importantly Sadaharitha “Can give a complete guarantee. We have a ready market. We can take the end product to the market. We have already signed forward agreements with the world’s leading giants in the natural oil trade. None of the other companies that sell agarwood in Sri Lanka give this guarantee or assurance. They do not submit an agreement as they do not have the capacity to do so within the framework of the law.”
“This is a competitive edge that no other company possesses,” the company officials confirmed.Joining Sadaharitha in growing Sri Lanka’s agarwood plantations are recognized regional plantation companies. Navaratne said, “Some have also joined us and sourced plants from us purchasing the CA-Kit and begun to grow agarwood in their own plantations.
It begs to ask the question why these reputed regional plantations are collaborating with us. They have years of experience, knowledge, fully understand the legality, success of the technology, have great awareness of the international markets, have reputed management and follow good practices. This is an extremely good example for the farmers, as to who they should join and this shows them the way forward.”