Authorities insist the government’s recent decision to promote commercial cultivation of Wallapatta (Gyrinops Walla) for export purposes will not play into the hands of smugglers.
The Nation last week reported that environmentalists have expressed concern over moves to allow the possession and transportation of Wallapatta on commercial basis based on a permit issued by a respective authority. According to them, the problem with this move is that it would take about 10 years for artificially grown Wallapatta trees to produce the ‘Agarwood’ resin that makes tree so valuable. As such, they pointed out that all permits issued in the short-term would have to be issued to trees that have been illegally cut down.
When contacted, Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Nihal Rupasinghe however, stressed the move to allow possession and transportation of the plant would only happen in the long-term. “We will first have a lot to do on laying the groundwork on this project such as finding the right seeds, locating suitable lands and conducting scientific research. There are no plans to provide permits on Wallapatta until cultivation is completed,” he insisted, stating that there were no immediate plans to issue such permits.