In mid-February, a group of 10 Malaysian farmers growing do tram visited Vietnam to see Khoa to persuade him to help create agarwood. If Khoan agreed to give a lecture about the method to create agarwood in Malaysia, he would be paid $100 per hour, but if he created agarwood, he would receive $1,000 per day, or VND22 million.
The Malaysian farmers grow 200 hectares of do tram trees which are now old enough to create agarwood.
However, Khoan didn’t want to go to Malaysia. “I can show them the method to create agarwood and sell the solution to them,” he said.
Do tram tree yields oil for medicine, perfumes and cosmetics. For thousands of years, it has been of great ethnobotanical importance to Asians.
Khoan began showing the method of creating agarwood to Asian farmers four years ago.
At first, he helped Cambodian farmers. “A woman introducing herself as the deputy minister headed a group of farmers here to learn the method to create agarwood. She said there were about 1 million do tram trees in Cambodia,” Khoan recalled.
“The know-how lies in the solution to create agarwood. This is a biological solution and I am the only person who has it,” Khoan said.
Khoan creates the solution from green ant juice, but no one knows the formula.
Khoan has a large green ant farm where 20 barrels of ants are bred in Lam Dong province.
It is very difficult to farm the ants, according to Khoan, because it is necessary to understand their habits.
“Green ants are very aggressive. Once their habitat is in danger, they will release fluid to protect themselves. The more they are attacked, the more fluid they will release. The fluid stimulates the wounds in do tram trees, thus creating agarwood,” he explained.
It is also difficult to collect the fluid in a scientific way. Each barrel of ants can produce 8-10 liters of fluid a month. The fluid must not touch wounds because it may fester.
Why green ants, and not other ant species? Some years ago, Khoan discovered herds of green ants on holes on do tram trees. When he burned the section of tree trunk where he saw the green ants, he found high-quality agarwood.
This prompted him to catch green ants for research. After he tried to inject the ant-made juice into do tram tree trunks, he successfully created high-quality agarwood.