Commercial as well as domestic white sandalwood cultivation can be easily used for the economic development of the country, a sandalwood researcher and grower Chumeda Perera said.
He emphasized that domestic white sandalwood cultivation could be used especially for rural economic development as well as poverty alleviation.
Perera pointed out that countries including India, Australia and Malaysia are currently cultivating white sandalwood on a mega scale as an economic cultivation, which contributes significantly to their GDP.
This plant can be grown in a temperature range of 12 to 40 degrees Celsius and grows well in all parts of the island except in some parts of the Nuwara Eliya District. In 12 to 15 years, the white sandalwood plant grows well in the weather and climatic conditions of Sri Lanka. The trunk of the grown white sandalwood plant has a high commercial value and according to the current market value in the world market, the trunk of the white sandalwood plant sells for around Rs. 25,000 per kilogramme. A trunk of a plant white sandalwood plant usually weighs about 20 kg after about 12 to 15 years.
Therefore, he emphasized that commercial as well as domestic white sandalwood cultivation can make a significant contribution to rural economic development and uplift the economic standards of the people whilst alleviating poverty.
Sandalwood oil is extracted from the trunk of the white sandalwood plant and this oil is used as a raw material in various fields. They are widely used in the manufacture of medicines and perfumes as well as in the fields of beauty and cosmetics. Sandalwood oil, a natural raw material, has a steady demand in the world market and it is evident that it is gradually increasing. The production cost of our country is relatively low compared to other countries where sandalwood is grown and the potential for sandalwood cultivation is very high considering the weather, climatic and soil conditions prevailing in our country. Therefore, as a quality sandalwood oil producer, Sri Lanka has a huge potential to easily capture a large market share in the global market, he said.
Perera pointed out that this potentiality and commercial viability will generate billions of dollars annually whilst making a significant contribution to the development of the micro and macroeconomic sectors.
“Commercial white sandalwood cultivation is prevalent in many parts of India, most notably in areas such as Cochin and Coimbatore. Besides, people tend to plant two-three sandalwood plants in their home gardens as sandalwood plants can be easily cashed out in case of a financial emergency. It is more economically viable than borrowing or mortgaging, especially for the domestic sandalwood growers. When concerning Indian domestic sandalwood growers they overcome their monetary issues such as weddings and dowries by selling off a sandalwood tree,” he added.
About 300 white sandalwood plants can be grown in an acre of land. In addition, sandalwood can be grown as an intercrop in coconut or tea plantations. By cultivating sandalwood as an intercrop, it is possible to increase the land productivity of coconut or tea plantations by about 60 per cent and also provide an additional source of income to the growers.
He further said that after gaining theoretical and practical knowledge on sandalwood cultivation, commercial and domestic sandalwood cultivation was started in 2017 in the Kegalle district and so far about 3,000 acres of sandalwood have been cultivated islandwide.
He mentioned that “Hirujaya” the company he has formed, is ready to provide necessary guidance and advice to people, who are interested in sandalwood cultivation.