• Bikhuk is an International Trading Company specialized in supplying wholesale herbs from Asia.

    Established in 2006, Bikhuk continues to fulfill its mission to supply High Quality Natural products for a competitive price

This week we celebrated our 10 years existence! Bikhuk was born, starting with a simple idea by some nice people, with the help of a lot of whiskey and some tea. It's an untold story for many, but its time to share this !

Somewhere in 2005 , after a long day traveling to the Borneo Dayak area, a group of locals and expats danced, chatted and drank whiskey in a longhouse with Yanto, a local village elder from the Dayak tribe. He told us that he recently had sold a large part of his land, rather than celebrating, he seemed hart-broken. Yanto explained to us that he, and many of the elderly in the area were forced to sell their land, for cut-rate prices. Unlike those around, he tried to keep his land, but soon found himself surrounded by bulldozers clearing hundreds of hectares of jungle around him, to prepare for some palmoil plantation. He had to sell, or else. Yanto was no exemption. Deforestation in Kalimantan and Borneo is dramatic and the speed in which the rainforests disappear only seems to go up. At that time over 16 million ha of rainforest was gone already (that’s the size of Switzerland!), more wood was being shipped out of Borneo compared to Africa and the Amazone combined! Local people kicked out of their livelihood, into cities elsewhere. We felt hopeless and powerless. We opened another bottle, what to do? Yanto started to tell about the past, how they were able to survive from the forest around for nearly anything they needed. He had painted his old white shirt with some local plant dye, he proudly exclaimed that he was still a “strong man” (Eurycoma Longifolia), used onions to clean his inner spirit (Eleutherine Palmifolia) , never had headaches (Asplenium Nidus) or stomach ache (Syzygium Polyanthum) and even could cure broken bones (Tetrastigma speciosa) . We realized that his world was far more valuable than any palm-oil plantation would ever be, if he could share his herbs. In the morning Tati, Yanto’s wife served us some terrible tasting tea, that would help to cure our heavy hangover (Mitragyna Speciosa).  It helped a great deal! …Then it struck us, we needed to introduce these herbs to the bigger world and safe the forest!  

In that same year, we collected and shipped samples to various friends, universities, laboratories and early adapters who had picked up some rumors online about the rare herbs we had “rediscovered”. Some herbs even got researched for the first time. With the help of resourceful indigenous people, rare strains all over Indonesia were collected. We learned a lot from local tribes and academics abroad. We examined lots of variables, active components, took soil samples, compared different strains and went into great detail. One study for example was setup only to compare leaves picked in the morning with those picked in the evening, and yes it seems to matter a lot. We visit large herbal producers who learned us how to process the herbs correctly. The knowledge gathered greatly helped us to understand quality of the herbs and to improve harvesting, drying and processing techniques. What started as an idea, became a company in 2006, Bikhuk was born. The number of shipments increased a lot in the years afterwards, mostly thanks to Tati’s “hangover tea leaves”, which were getting popular all around the world.

Fast forward 10 years, a lot happened. Bikhuk has grown into a large network of partners, ranging from indigenous farmers to sophisticated retailers and thousands of regular buyers of all sizes. And even our competitors, who have jumped in our markets over the last few years. Altogether we have been able to make a remarkable change. In the areas we work, trees aren’t longer been cut, instead , trees are being planted to safe the forests. The local natives have seen great improvement of their livelihoods and are enjoying a steady higher income made with their forest products.

About the future?  Well, the current successes have been achieved mostly by Tati’s leaves (Mitragyna Speciosa), to be honest. But as illustrated before, these same endangered rain-forests still do offer a vast variety of useful herbs. Most of these botanical secrets still remain either undiscovered, or are not scientifically researched, but sometimes simply known only by the indigenous tribes themselves. Yet its clear that some of these plants or trees can offer great innovative and sustainable solutions for our food issues, our medications, even our textile coloring or cosmetics demands , to name a few. We’re determined to continue researching, developing and introducing new ethnobotanical products, wherever and however we can. By doing so we envision to further empower these indigenous communities living in these resourceful environments, they are learning about the economic value of their forests, turning their rare and unknown herbal sources and knowledge into useful products. This motivates and helps them to preserve their environment and biodiversity in a great way.

We have a lot of people to thank for getting to this 10 year mark. Our friends, our first buyers, some fans maybe, our partners in the US, Canada, Europe, Russia and elsewhere who helped us greatly with expansion and our buyers big and small, nearly from every nation in the world now! And especially all those that do all the hard work. It’s a bit too much to name all here. So lets pick one remarkable guy. Jelle Wolthuizen, a dear friend, a fighter for the rights of the indigenous folks and a great and smart person for all that have met him. He was director South East Asia for Oxfam/Novib since the 90’s,  and has shown us the right way and greatly inspired us to setup Bikhuk. He was one of the few that really believed we could somehow stop these bulldozers and halt deforestation one day. Jelle passed away young in the summer of 2006, never to see the results of his ideas and beliefs working on such a great scale.

We'll continue working to prove him right.


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