Agarwood is a rich and resinous heartwood produced from agar trees, also known as the ‘Wood of Gods’. Cultivated in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc., agarwood has been traded globally for centuries now. The history of agarwood dates back to over 2,000 years, as it is an integral part of the cultural and religious landscape of Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Taoists, etc. Agar trees grow well in the cool climate of hill stations that enjoy high humidity and heavy rainfall. Forest soil that is rich in organic content is ideal for its growth. About 400 trees per acre in 10x10 ft spacing is recommended. Higher elevation, warm summer and cold winter will enhance the quality of agar oil. Irrigation and fertiliser application will enhance the plant growth further, resulting in the early harvesting of trees.
In the commercial cultivation of agarwood, a patented technology called artificial inoculation is carried out on trees to yield the best quality of resinous wood. Generally, it is done in the 8th year, and subsequently, trees are harvested about 18 months later, in the 10th year. Heavy rainfall results in the natural infection of trees, which in turn yields good quality resinous wood. Infected wood is segregated into different grades manually. Agar oil is extracted in the processing facility either by modern or traditional system. Reputed perfumery brands the world over are extensively using agar oil for fragrances. It is widely used for medicinal purposes too. Lower grades of the perfume are used in the manufacturing of incense sticks, while waste is used for paper pulp. Annually, around 80 countries trade in various agarwood products. The Indian agarbathi industry makes use of it in various ways.