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Friday, June 14, 2024

Bill filed expanding Agarwood industry to potentially create 30,000 jobs

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A bill has been filed at the House of Representatives proposing to liberalize and expand opportunities in Agarwood industry.  

House Bill (HB) 10320 or the Agarwood Industry Development Act aims to increase the income of farmers, as well as potentially create up to 30,000 jobs for Filipinos.

“Our countrymen deserve to be given more opportunities to venture into such a high-value industry and to compete globally,” Rep. Wilbert Lee of party-list AGRI said.

“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 that is commonly sourced from Aquilaria. This forest product is used as a material for incense, perfume, and medicine.  

The price of Agarwood per kilo reportedly ranges from P24,000 to P53 million, depending on quality. Since it is 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 said.

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

It would also institutionalize the Agarwood Research Office (ARO) that 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.

To prevent proliferation of poaching Agarwood species, the said measure would also establish the Aquilaria Registration Office that 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.

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