According to the world’s oldest written text, the Sanskrit Vedas from 1400 BC, the fragrance produced by agar has been appreciated by many cultures and religions throughout human history.
In the Nirvana Sutra, aloes (another name given to Agarwood) is referred to as the “heavenly wood” used in Buddha’s cremation. In the New Testament, Jesus‘ body before crucifixion was anointed with a mixture of myrrh and aloes. Furthermore, the description of paradise in the Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith by Allah’s messenger includes the burning of agarwood as incense.
For wood to carry the fragrant resin, it must first be infected
First-class agarwood can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per kilogram, making it one of the most expensive raw materials in the world. However, for the wood to be able to produce quality wood, it must first be infected with certain types of fungi.
Aquilaria malaccensis is a tree native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia, India, and Bangladesh. Gaharu is the resin component of the non-timber tree Aquilaria, which is an invaluable product for medicines and fragrances.
Before infection, the resin core is pale, odorless, and useless.
In the wild, damage to trees by outside forces, such as grazing animals, sporadically leads to an increase in a certain type of fungal infection in trees called the Phialophora parasite. They react with a protective mechanism and produce a distinctive resin, which is the only ingredient from the tree that is used in oud perfumes, pharmaceuticals, and other products associated with the perfume industry.
The real defense from the area of attack is to make tension-induced aromatic resins, which are dark and moist for several years, and which are low slowly embedded in the heart of the tree to make the Agar tree worth thousands of dollars.
However, it should be noted that not all Aquilaria trees could produce resin cores. Only every tenth tree has an infected core and is considered usable. It is also believed that there is no guarantee that the tree would produce sap despite human intervention. When we know this, we will see the rarity and uniqueness of Agarwood.
After the heartwood carrying the incense chips are collected, these resin-embedded fragments, also known as Oudh, are cut by hand.
Scented incense chips are widely used as incense, especially in the Middle East, where they are burned as a sign of hospitality and incorporated into clothing and clothing such as perfume.
The oil, which is extracted from infected Agarwood, can cost up to $ 80,000 per liter and has been dubbed “liquid gold”. Due to its growing popularity in the west, Agarwood has become a common ingredient in several high-quality fragrances giving it a warm and musky aroma. Due to unsustainable production and habitat loss, all Aquilaria tree species are now classified as critically endangered.
Experts estimate that the population of this miracle tree has shrunk by 80% in the last 250 years and that even the area where the tree grows is decreasing day by day. Unfortunately, the incidence of natural fungal infections is very low. Some experts estimate that only 2% of wild Aquilaria trees are infected enough to produce the coveted resin. It became increasingly difficult to find naturally infected wood and finding it brings great benefits to the people who traded the wood.
As naturally infected wood bordering extinction, some Agarwood producers are going to an extend of artificially inoculated with a microbial compound to induce the all-important resin.
Natural Agarwood is uncommon, so rich people prefer to use it. Nevertheless, the truth is that the quality of artificial Agarwood is not necessarily inferior to natural Agarwood. Natural agarwood is now very valuable. It can be 100 times higher than artificial Agarwood. Because there is not much natural Agarwood left in nature, people can set any price for it. Artificial agarwood is known to be a human-made product, so the prices are considerably lower.
The global market for Agarwood is estimated to be worth a staggering $35 billion. However, where Oudh was once so common, high demand has not only increased the price, but also the rate of harvesting and artificial production. By the start of 2030, the market is expected to double to $65 billion.