Al Jazeera Shines the Spotlight on Oud as Asia Plantation Capital Plays its Part

Gerard McGuirk, Director of Asia Plantation Capital Hong Kong, speaking to Al-Jazeera in an interview.

In a series of programmes including a featured documentary, international broadcaster and news network, Al Jazeera, has focused its attention on the magical substance known variously as agarwood, gaharu and Oud.

An integral part of the religious and cultural lives of millions of people, Oud is renowned for its health-giving properties, remarkable fragrance and ability to promote peace of mind. As such, it is highly sought after, with demand currently far outstripping supply, and creating an illegal trade with an attendant black market.

Asia Plantation Capital is recognised as one of the world’s leading sustainable plantation companies, and has brought the species of Aquilaria tree (from which Oud is derived) back from the brink of extinction. Asia Plantation Capital has injected millions of dollars into the relevant research and development that has produced proprietorial technologies designed to both reintroduce the species to its natural habitat, and develop a sustainable and ethical business.

In his featured documentary, Al Jazeera’s Ali Mohamed Al-Woozain takes us on a personal journey of discovery that he describes as both “dark” and “beautiful”, charting his relationship with Oud from childhood. In an excellent piece of investigative journalism, Ali bores into the heart of a trade that dates back thousands of years, which has now fallen prey to greed and nefarious activities.

Asia Plantation Capital’s Aquilaria Tree plantations in Thailand.

The message is very clear. Demand for Oud and all its various by-products has never been higher, while supplies are getting evermore scarce. The need to address the situation has become an imperative, and Asia Plantation Capital is displaying its commitment to providing an ethical and sustainable source of Oud to an avid market.

Ali Mohamed Al-Woozain’s documentary highlights the current state of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is shrouded in myth and mystery for many people. As a Qatari himself, Oud has always been a part of his life in both cultural and religious rituals, and yet he admits to having little knowledge as to its source. His awakening and enlightenment is one he shares with viewers on a fascinating journey of discovery that takes him all over the world, including Malaysia, and a visit to one of Asia Plantation Capital’s plantations.

With more than 100 plantations around the world, Asia Plantation Capital guarantees that its Oud is 100% pure, natural, of the highest quality and of known provenance. Asia Plantation Capital knows exactly where the Oud comes from as the company grows the trees itself, on owned or managed plantations, embracing all the elements of environmental awareness and corporate social responsibility that should be part and parcel of modern business practices.

Most importantly, all the Oud produced by Asia Plantation Capital is officially certified by various bodies, including CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The Aquilaria tree has been on the CITES’ list of endangered species since the end of the 20th Century, but thanks to Asia Plantation Capital, is now flourishing in the controlled and protected conditions of its expertly managed plantations.

A cross-section of an infected Aquilaria Tree.

Asia Plantation Capital is a multi-award-winning company that boasts the remarkable ‘Soil to Oil to You’ story that sees it supply its precious Oud to French perfume house Fragrance Du Bois, as well as to other industry end users.

Fragrance Du Bois’ creations are causing tongues to wag in the fragrance industry, and its flagship boutiques in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok are garnering considerable industry interest. Fragrance Du Bois debuted its exquisite range of products in Paris in February 2016, and now has a permanent presence in the haute parfumerie capital of the world. A key aspect of the Asia Plantation Capital business model is the collaboration and cooperation with international partners to secure the end market and product distribution channels for the Oud it produces. This enables the company to maximise returns to its stakeholders, thereby generating more capital with which to reinvest.

In her news piece on the plight of the Aquilaria tree in Hong Kong, Al Jazeera’s Sarah Clarke reports on the illegal logging in one of the territory’s last remaining agarwood plantations.

Fortunately, once again, Asia Plantation Capital has stepped into the breach, and now manages and controls the trees that gave Hong Kong (‘Fragrant Harbour’) its name. Illegal loggers are indiscriminately cutting down what few trees remain, leading to enhanced security for the precious species, but a note of optimism is sounded as a result of Asia Plantation Capital’s intervention and its commitment to preservation.

For a high profile industry that affects so many people around the world in such a wide variety of different cultures, so little is actually known. It is gratifying to see that Al Jazeera is as committed to educating people about one of the rarest and most magical substances on earth, as Asia Plantation Capital is to playing its part in ensuring that the industry is both ethical and sustainable, and that Oud will be around for many generations to come.