Experiences in benzoin resin production in Sumatra, Indonesia
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This paper presens a preliminary results of research on benzoin in North Sumatra, Indonesia.Benzoin was studied because of its intersting management, and very little data was available on present exploitation. Benzoin is the resin of various species of Styrax trees (Styracaceae). In Sumatra Benzoin resin from Styrax tonkensis is called kemenyan in Maly and haminjon in Batak. It is chiefly used for incense, perfume and medicine. The authors thought that benzoin in North Sumatra had become a very minor activity, yet they found that it is still produced in fourteen sub-districts distributed over two districts, Dairi and North Tapanuli, where it is either the main source of income, or secondary to commercial agriculture. Thousands of farmers and small farmers and small local traders still live from this resource. Present trading channels follow very old trading routes. The Indonesian consumption, which is possible the highest in the world at the moment, is the most likely to decrease, as using benzoin in rituals is now perceived as backward. Its uses as a component of kretek cigarettes could also decrease tremendously in the future. Research is still needed to more accurately define the present marketing channels and the future potential of this product. The authors recommend taht customs offices change their categories, so that import-export figures of "minor" products such as benzoin can appear separately.
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