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,Affecting change: (From left) Lim, Liew and Tan hope to modernise the agarwood production industry.

FOR close to 10 years, David Liew spent countless hours doing research and going down to the ground in search of the right vaccination formula for aquilaria plantations. The goal: to produce the highly prized agarwood.

Agarwood, also known as gaharu in Malaysia, is a fragrant dark resinous wood formed in the heart of the tree trunk that is used in the production of incense, perfume and other consumer products.

It is produced either from naturally or scientifically-induced infected Aquilaria trees, which are native to South-East Asia.

There are basically two methods to “injure” an aquilaria tree in order to produce the chemical reactions to produce agarwood, shares Liew.

Trees could either be injured naturally, for example, by being struck by lightning, insects or bacterial infection, or artificially through human interventions like hacking at the tree to expose the bark, tying the trunk with a wire or inoculating it with fungi.

Over time, Liew found that injuring the tree via inoculation has been proven to be the fastest method in inducing agarwood formation.

Abundant resource: There are more than 2 million Aquilaria trees registered in Malaysia.

Having perfected his formulations and confirming the results of his inoculation technology, Liew managed to get the backing of seasoned investor Davidoff Lim, which eventually led to the founding of DAdvance Agarwood Solutions Sdn Bhd. Liew hopes to position the company as a Malaysian agarwood plantation and product specialist.

While many farmers and plantation owners are keen to tap into the promising potential of the Malaysian agarwood industry, Liew highlights that many do not know the methods to producing them.

“There is difficulty in finding a source of supply because the majority of agarwood farmers did not know that these aquilaria trees needed to be wounded to produce agarwood. This further contributes to the poor supply.”

He took the time to understand the problems faced by farmers and plantation owners and worked towards helping them with a solution.

“The vaccine developed by us has proven to increase the chances of producing agarwood through inoculation by up to 90%,” he says.

Nonetheless, he notes that the company may need further funding to finance the expansion of its vaccine production as DAdvance looks to ramp up the inoculation process to increase yield and develop new plantations.

It plans to raise up to RM20mil through alternative funding platforms next year as it looks to expand its inoculation technology.

Liew says it is also currently in talks with a local investor who is keen to acquire a stake in the company. If the deal goes through, this will increase the number of shareholders in the company to four.

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