Kerala’s renowned Marayoor sandalwood trees are prized for their unmatched fragrance, and this month’s auction brought in a record amount of money for the state’s forest department.

According to officials, the department won the auction, in which major corporations and organizations including Karnataka Soaps, Oushadhi, Jaipur CMT and India Limited, KFDC, and Devaswom Boards participated, for Rs 37.22 crore.

Auctions were held for the sandalwood gathered from both public and private lands. According to forest officials, the money collected from private lands for sandalwood will be given to the landowners. “On a private piece of land in Marayoor, just one sandalwood tree brought in Rs. 1.25 crore. Its roots alone were sold for Rs. 27,34,001, according to Vinod Kumar, Marayoor’s Divisional Forest Officer.

He said with more private people coming forward for sandalwood farming, it should be noted that 4,226 kg of sandalwood collected from private farmers were also auctioned, fetching more than Rs 3 crore. “This amount will be handed over to the land owners,” Kumar said. Apart from Marayoor sandalwood, fragrant wood from other divisions of the Kerala Forest Department was also auctioned here. “9,418 kg of sandalwood from other divisions were auctioned,” the DFO added.

This is the second online auction conducted this year, which was carried out for over two days in four sessions. A total of 68.632 tonne of sandalwood in 15 different classes were auctioned. Out of this, 30467.25 kg of sandalwood were sold out. On the first day, Rs 28.96 crore and on the second day, Rs 8.26 crore worth of sandalwood were auctioned.

Karnataka Soaps alone has bought 25.99 tonne of sandalwood at Rs 27 crore. The auction also included white sandal bark and roots. White sandal bark fetched a minimum price of Rs 225 per kg. On the first auction in March this year, sandalwood was auctioned for Rs 31 crore. Marayoor, located some 40-km from Kerala’s scenic Munnar hill station, is the only place in Kerala with a natural growth of sandalwood trees.

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