Sandalwood supply at stake globally
SANDALWOOD IS in high demand in countries like India, China, Japan, Taiwan and the US. But the current production across the world accounts for only one-forth of the global market demand. Short supply and high demand has led to a steep rise in sandalwood price, particularly during 2002-07.
India, which once produced about 80 per cent of the world's sandalwood and oil, today annually produces about 400 tonnes of its native variety, Santalumalbum. Honolulu in the Pacific Islands was known for its abundance of sandalwood, but excessive logging has depleted the number of trees. Overexploitation has damaged the wood in Fiji, while there is a ban on sandalwood extraction in Indonesia. Malaysia has only recently started plantation, so its production will take time.
Australia today is the only significant global producer of sandalwood, with 9,000 hectares (ha) of plantation. Although its native variety, Santalum spicatum, is facing a decline, the country took up plantation of the Indian variety decades back, which is now ready for harvest. As of 2014, India has 20,725 ha of sandalwood plantation, but it could be a decade or more before the country can harvest any of it as the sandalwood plants are still very young.
APARNA PALLAVI / CSE The demand for the products of Karnataka Soap and Detergents Limited is about 20,000 tonnes, but it can only produce 12,000 tonnes due to a shortage of sandalwood