11 July 2024

Thailand’s Royal Forest Department is tightening controls on the trade in arum (Amorphophallus) roots and saplings after it was learned that some Chinese traders have stockpiled huge quantities to be sent to China for cultivation.

The department’s director-general, Atthapol Charoenchansa, told Thai PBS today that he had called a meeting of officials to discuss the issue, after reports that some Chinese traders have allegedly been urging villagers to collect the plants and roots in national parks or forest reserves in Mae Hong Son and Tak provinces.

He said that arum saplings are fetching twice the price of arum roots, at about 30 baht per kilogram.

Extracts from arum root are used in making cosmetics, food supplements and weight loss drugs.

Mr. Atthapol said that mass cultivation of arum could hurt the local market if arum roots from China are subsequently dumped into the Thai market.

During a recent raid on a storage space in Thailand’s northern province of Lamphun, which is owned by a Chinese trader, officials discovered forged documentation indicating that arum saplings and roots had been purchased from a plantation in Tak province.