The first “gaharu” oil extraction plant in Sarawak will be set up at Sungai Asap in Belaga by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti).
Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili said the plant, which cost about RM1 million, would be built in the next 12 months depending on the sustainable supply of gaharu trees in the area.
“We have just started the first phase of the inoculation process last year. We want to make sure there is enough sources and see how much is available before we proceed with the second phase to build the plant,” he told StarMetro after launching a gaharu project at Uma Badeng in Sungai Asap yesterday.
A minimum of five tonnes of gaharu is needed per month for the oil extraction plant. The plant in Sarawak will be the third in Malaysia funded by Mosti after the ones in Kampung Kedaik, Rompin in Pahang and Telupid in Sabah.
The project carried out by Asap Koyan Development Community (AKDC), a grassroots organisation assisting in the resettlement of Belaga folk due to the flooding of the dam, and Mosti, is participated by some 30 families in Sungai Asap.
AKDC was given a project fund amounting to RM300,000 under the Community Inno Fund of Mosti with technical assistance from Malaysia Nuclear Agency to inoculate gaharu trees since Oct 10 last year.
Inoculation is done when the trees are three to five years old and it produces agarwood over two years.
“Our focus now is to inoculate the identified wild trees in the jungle which will be flooded after the water impoundment at Bakun and Murum dams. So, the resin will be formed and we can cut the trees before they get flooded,” Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang said.
Gaharu or agarwood is the resinous heartwood from aquilaria trees, large evergreens native to Southeast Asia.
There is a huge demand for gaharu oil in the market and the good quality wood can be exported to the Middle East and the low quality wood can be used to produce gaharu oil.
As part of the project and for the sustainable development of gaharu trees, the villagers are encouraged to plant them.
Dr Maximus hoped the technology transferred to the local community could enable them to increase their income and he would introduce other projects such as swiftlet rearing and other high-yield economic activities to Sungai Asap.
Courtesy of MetroStar. The contents was extracted from MetroStar archives dated Jan 2011.