Lee seeks to expand agardwood industry

May 21, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 111 views

To create jobs, additional income for farmers

AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee has filed a measure to liberalize and expand opportunities in Agarwood industry that will not only increase the income of farmers, but also has the potential to create up to 30,000 jobs and livelihood in the country.

According to Lee, principal author of House Bill No. 10320 or the “Agarwood Industry Development Act”, “Our countrymen deserve to be given more opportunities to venture into such a high-value industry and to compete globally.”

“Napakalaki ng potensyal na makatulong nitong Agarwood industry hindi lang sa sektor ng agrikultura kundi sa ating buong ekonomiya. Mula sa seedlings hanggang sa pagiging puno, lahat may pakinabang,” said the solon from Bicol.

“Its seedlings alone can generate income of thousands of pesos per month. If maximized, it could also generate opportunities up to approximately 20,000 to 30,000 jobs directly and indirectly, including roles in cultivation, harvesting, processing, marketing, and sales,” he added.

Agarwood, locally known as “lapnisan,” is a high-value tree known for its distinctive fragrance which is commonly sourced from Aquilaria.

This forest product is used as a material for incense, perfume, and medicine.

Reportedly, price of Agarwood per kilo ranges from P24,000 to P53 million, depending on quality. Being classified as a threatened plant and endangered species, the government highly regulates its trade and commercialization to protect it from further extinction.

“Currently, we have regulations for farmed Aquilaria, those which are cultivated for trade. But with the promising profits from a sustainable Agarwood industry which can generate jobs and livelihood across the country and contribute to the Philippine economy, the government must optimize the industry by allowing more Filipinos to venture into it while ensuring protection of our natural resources to avoid exploitation,” Lee pointed out.

Under HB 10320, the Agarwood Industry Authority (AIA) shall be created to promote and provide direction for farming, propagation, harvesting, trading, commercialization, development, and sustainability of Aquilaria.

It will also institutionalize the Agarwood Research Office (ARO) which will lead in conducting extensive research on the value chain and best practices in cultivation of Aquilaria to guide our farmers to maximize its benefits.

And to prevent proliferation of poaching Agarwood species, the said measure will also establish the Aquilaria Registration Office which will facilitate the registration of Aquilaria farms and trees, nursery farm permit, and report of harvest and trade to keep a consolidated record of data of all value chains of Aquilaria in the Philippines.

“Kasabay ng pag-commercialize, dapat may malinaw na patakaran o sistema ng pagpaparehistro nito para ma-monitor ang mga legally at illegally acquired Agarwood, upang maiwasan ang pag-abuso at paglapastangan sa kalikasan,” Lee said recalling the poaching incident of Agarwood species reported in Aklan last December 2023 where 10 persons in possession of 1.35 kilograms of Agarwood worth P216,000, were apprehended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Sa napakayaman nating kalikasan, dapat maging enabler at manguna ang gobyerno sa paglikha at pagpaparami ng mga oportunidad sa bansa. The Filipinos deserve better services to ease their plight so we will continue demanding just policies to boost opportunities,” Lee remarked.

“Winner tayong lahat sa dagdag na trabaho at kita para sa libo-libo nating kababayan na maihahatid nitong paglinang at pagpapalawak sa industriya ng Agarwood. Makapagbibigay ito ng kapanatagan ng loob sa pantustos sa pagkain, at sa iba pang gastusin, lalo na sa pangamba ng marami na magkasakit, dahil sa takot na lalong malubog sa hirap at utang dahil walang pambili ng gamot o pambayad sa hospital,” he added.