Sunday, February 17, 2008

What is sandalwood really worth?

picture from Colo-i-Suva of yasi seedlings.

An article in today's Fiji Times shows that the men in Dreketi are only being paid 50 cents a kilo for sandalwood. That sounds disgracefully low to me. It's called yasi in Fiji. I thought sandalwood eventually can make $1000 per kilo! What should be the price at the first stage? It's not really a plantation item as yasi requires a host tree, so it's a bit complicated. Once upon a time Vanua Levu had a large amount of sandalwood but traders, mainly from USA, just chopped down the trees and made their own fortunes selling sandalwood in Asia.

If a suitable price was offered, wouldn't this be a more lucrative product than sugar?

Sandalwood rip-off
Sunday, February 17, 2008

SANDALWOOD traders in the North have called on the interim regime to secure a market for them because they were being ripped off by local buyers. The comment comes after buyers at Labasa dropped their purchase price from $1 to 50c a kilo. The disgruntled traders, who are members of mataqali Nakorovatu of Nabavatu Village in Dreketi, want the Ministry of Forestry to look into their concern. Clan spokesman Alifereti Esala said the price of 50c a kilo was a rip-off.

"It is not a good price especially when we cut the wood and bring it to town. To hire a carrier for our sandalwood from nabavatu to Labasa costs $200."

Mr Esala said the sandalwood trade was an expensive exercise especially for villagers who depended on money from sales for their income. Divisional Forestry Officer Northern Noa Vakacegu said the ministry did not control the price of sandalwood sale and for licensed harvesters, there were markets in the North they dealt with. "For yasi, the market price is $20 to $25 a kilo but we don't control the market price. There are only a few who have a licence to harvest and sell sandalwood."


Lui said...

Just want to say thank you for this great web site. It is great to hear all the news and gossip from home. I was bron and raised in Labasa and and am now residing in Samoa.

it is good to know what is happening at home...once again Thanks for the great work.

Lui Seru

Mike Radrodro said...

Yasi or Sansalwood Tales:

I was introduced to this species lately in January of 2012 so I am new to the Trade yet have met up with lots of Tales or rather tails end.
1) Unfortunately for Fiji, there had been never a National Project or Program for the replanting of the Sandalwood from pre Colonial days, Colonial run Governements, Fiji Independance Governments.
2) Sandalwood & Sea slugs (Beachdemer) were the first commodities for trades in Fiji.
3) Travelling from the Interiors of Vitilevu, Coastal areas of Vitilevu, Vanualevu etc had given me an opportunity not been talked about openly.
4) Fijian Politics at its worst surrounds businesses like the one I represented when trying to assist locals.
5) Top it of the worst still are middlemen who are only interested in their pockets rather than the Landowners.
6) Fiji has run out of huge matured sandalwwood trees that are over 50yrs old but only with the young ones upto 25yrs if lucky.
7) Although there are still some native matured Sandalwood trees around in Fiji, finding them are difficult together with the Fijian Political system as cover up.
Mikaele (Mike) Radrodro