Since the fraudulent exporters who were attempting to export the valuable plant ‘Walla Patta were nabbed by the Police keen interest to cultivate this endangered tree for commercial use is emerging.
The Ministry of Economic Development is holding talks with a number of other partners on how the crop could be introduced as a subsidiary to low income groups and private investors are searching for land in the low country wet zone for commercial cultivation.
At the moment as Walla Patta is a endangered plant its an offence to cut down, transport or process the tree but if its going to be grown on a commercial basis the rules will have to be relaxed.
Under the Public-Private-Partnership Programme of the National Research Council (NRC) of Sri Lanka, it has awarded SLR 11.6 million Dr. Upul Subasinghe for conducting further research on Walla patta (Gyrinops walla). Sadaharitha Plantations Limited jointly funds this three year research programme with the NRC.
The Public-Private-Partnership programme is a result of the budget proposals over the past few years to strengthen the economy by scientific and technological findings. Moreover, the present proposal, which was among the 6 selected ones for funding by the NRC over 60 applications, is in line with the Green Economy concept of the Sri Lanka Government.
It is expected to obtain the following information by conducting the proposed research project .
1. The seed germination methods
2. Most effective agarwood resin induction methods
3. Agarwood quantity and quality variations with tree size, age and climatic conditions
4. Optimum resin extraction methods
The findings will definitely contribute to the national economy of Sri Lanka by providing silvicultrual, chemical and technological information that are required for large and medium scale Walla patta plantation development in the country. In addition, the results will benefit the villagers living in the low country wet zone of Sri Lanka by providing the correct information on planting methods, resin formation and harvesting times of this precious tree currently exploited without having a proper knowledge on its value said Dr Upul Subasinha.
Agarwood known as wallapatta in Sri lanka is an expensive resinous product extracted from some members of Aquilaria and Gyrinops species of the family Thymalaeaceae. Agarwood essential oil is a highly valued perfumery product in modern cosmetics and traditional Attar. Agarwood extraction from the above species and product manufacturing are done in India and Southeast Asian countries. However, over harvesting, low natural regeneration, and legal restrictions at present, have limited the supply of this product. Gyrinops walla is recorded in the wet zone of Sri Lanka, and it had been very rarely recorded in extreme Southwest India.
However, recent reports of the abundance of G. walla in India are hard to find. Studies were not conducted in the past for G. walla on its ability of agarwood resin production and the quality of that resin. This study is the first to identify the agarwood resin formation and the quality of G. walla which can be used as a substitute for that of Aquilaria and other species of Gyrinops. Resinous tissues were extracted from six G.
trees for the present study from two different areas, i.e., Labugama and Yagirala of the wet zone of Sri Lanka. The resins were solvent extracted in the laboratory and the resin quality was tested using gas chromatography analysis.
The results indicated an extreme similarity of the compounds of G. walla resin with that of commercially available agarwood resins. However, further studies should be conducted to identify G. walla distribution and formation of agarwood.9with input from the Blog of Dr Upul Subasinha)