Oji Group has many proprietary technologies for tree breeding for tissue culturing and gene analysis, such as for the selection of suitable species that we have accumulated during research on planted trees used for manufacturing paper.Medicinal Plant Section focuses on the research on medicinal plants because they allow us to effectively utilize the assets from our research and are promising as a market.
Technology for Large-Scale Cultivation of Licorice
(1)History leading to domestic cultivation
Licorice, a medicinal plant, is used in about 70% of Kanpo medicine (Chinese medicine) and is extensively used in cosmetics, food, toiletries and other products.
For most raw materials, we are dependent on imports of wild products from China and Central Asia. However, issues such as rising prices and limited availability have recently occurred from the fears of resource depletion resulting from an increase in demand and China’s export controls.
(The price index of licorice, the most-used crude drug, has more than doubled from 2012 to 2014, up from 163 to 186 and then to 242.)
Report of Research on the Amount of Crude Drugs Used etc. (5): FY2008 to 2016(Japanese only)
Many companies research the cultivation of licorice in Japan. However, we were yet to establish technology that meets the standard for medicinal ingredients (2.0% or more glycyrrhizic acid) with short-term cultivation and for automating cultivation.
(2) Successfully meeting the standard for medicinal ingredients within a short time after the seedling stage
Oji Group analyzed the expression of licorice genes under different cultivation conditions. Based on the results, we established cultivation technology for increasing the glycyrrhizic acid content to a higher level than the standard within a short amount of time, 1.5 years, from seeding to harvesting. Also, we succeeded in a demonstrative test at our farm.
Licorice seedlings 16 months after being seeded
Licorice roots 18 months (1.5 years) after being seeded
(3) Large-scale demonstrative test of licorice cultivation
Oji Group has established automation technology necessary for the cultivation of licorice on a large scale equivalent to a business scale.Currently, a demonstration test for large-scale cultivation is underway at our farm in Nayoro, with 8 hectares planted annually.
In the future, we will pursue the commercial availability of licorice for use as a raw material in medicinal products, such as kampo medicine (Chinese medicine) . We are also considering manufacturing other items, such as daily necessities and cosmetics, from licorice and will structure new businesses with our customers who value the high quality and traceability of Japanese-grown licorice.
Utilizing Our Forest Resources
In addition to licorice, we are also considering ways to utilize the many species of medicinal plants that grow wild in 126,000 ha of company-owned forest in Hokkaido.outItem">
Examples of medicinal plants that have been identified growing in Oji’s company-owned forest