San­dal­wood sup­ply at stake glob­ally

Down to Earth - - NEW BUSINESS -

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

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