17 Aug 2010

Fiji's Forestry Department wants locals to benefit from sandalwood demand

2:55 pm on 17 August 2010

Fiji's Forestry Department is encouraging local people to take advantage of the increased international demand for sandalwood, by selling seedlings to the general public.

The Conservator of Forests, Inoke Wainiqolo, says from 2006 to 2009, the average amount of sandalwood exported to customers doubled from 40 tonnes to 80, and was sold for about 60 US dollars per kilogram.

Mr Wainiqolo says most is exported to countries in Asia and the Middle East, which use the oils in religious ceremonies and to make perfume.

He says while the industry is still relatively small, the general public could benefit from selling sandalwood.

"The market now, the demand is high. I don't believe the price will ever go down lower again, given the demand for sandalwood, so we are encouraging the general public, especially the communities, to plant their own sandalwood, because it will give them a better income."

Inoke Wainiqolo says the Department's also educating communites about how to grow and when to harvest sandalwood, so they can maximise their financial returns.