Theme for a dream
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CTA. 2000. Theme for a dream. Spore 86. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46719
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore86.pdf
Making money out of essential oils extracted from plants is like taking a magical mystery tour. ACP growers and producers need to meet a lot of conditions, but success can be sweet. How would you like your ylang-ylang oil? Steamed or squeezed or...
Making money out of essential oils extracted from plants is like taking a magical mystery tour. ACP growers and producers need to meet a lot of conditions, but success can be sweet. How would you like your ylang-ylang oil? Steamed or squeezed or diluted, and then exported? Photos (top to bottom): Corbis, Texarome, A. Rival It takes just a tiny drop of oil from the ylang-ylang plant rubbed into the chest, and the user is carried away on the wings of the scent. Sedated, restored, rested, energised, even seduced the effects are varied, and in the mind . The treatment known as aromatherapy - has physical effects, and can have subtle effects on the mind and emotions. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years, not only in aromatherapy, but also in perfumes, pharmaceuticals and food flavouring and, as a more recent innovation in bio-pesticides. The market is well-established, at an estimated 1.2 billion per year. With the growing interest in healthy lifestyles in Europe for example, demand is rising steadily. Essential oils are found in the cells of various plant organs, ranging from the roots, bark and leaves to the seeds, fruits and flowers. There are more than 3,000 essential oils known today, of which more than 500 are sold commercially. The term itself shows the importance attached to them: it is accredited to Paracelsus, a 16th century physician, who believed that the oil extracted from a vegetable contained the total flavour . He described it as the quintessence, meaning the pure, highly concentrated essence of a thing. In ancient philosophy, the fifth (in Latin: quintus ) and highest essence after the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water, was thought to be the substance of the heavenly bodies and latent in all things. Heavenly they may be, but essential oils are all around us. The oil of the clove leaf contains eugenol and is used in toothpaste, and the oil of the clove bud is used against toothache; the oil of citrus seeds is used in beverages; rosemary oil is used as a sedative. Good for employment The traditional artisanal methods of production, usually by distillation, expression and solvent extraction, cannot easily provide the consistent levels of quality demanded on the export market. Traders in essential oils are now demanding the use of modern, and capital-intensive equipment. The Phael Flor company in Madagascar, for example, had to invest more than E 300,000 in industrial plant to produce export quality oils from organically grown geraniums, pepper, cinnamon, camphor, ginger, vanilla and cloves. The scale of their operation which accounts for less than 10% of national oil exports - is impressive: they employ more than 50 people in their processing and distribution activities, and generate employment for several hundred plant producers upstream . As an agro-industry, the essential oil sector is an important contributor to a nation s agricultural economy, and balance of trade. This is well understood by several ACP countries: investment projects are currently underway in Benin, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Togo and Zimbabwe. In Mali, for example, the UPROCOHE company is typical of start-up enterprises, having to deal with the standards set by the International Standards Organisation, with the need to obtain special packaging materials (since essential oils must not be stored in plastic bottles) and importing equipment. Other countries, ranging from Guatemala to Australia, are hoping to corner their share of the market and world competition will undoubtedly grow. Some ACP countries are already well established: in the Indian Ocean, the Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius have significant production, although they are overshadowed by Madagascar, which produces more than half the world s clove essence and one-third of its ylang-ylang oil, from which it derives annual export earnings of E 5 million. It even exports ylang-ylang to Jamaica, where it is blended with locally-produced lemon grass oil. And Jamaica itself is well-placed with its virtual monopoly on the production and trade of allspice (Pimento officinalis). Fools rush in Great potential exists for many ACP countries to produce and market essential oils, but if the recent experience of Madagascar is anything to go by, a lot of work is required to get the sector operating smoothly. Between 1992 and 1997 millions of dollars were invested by local banks and companies: the World Bank, the UN Industrial Development Organisation, the ACP-EU Centre for the Development of Industry, and the German, United States and European development cooperation agencies. In the apparent gold-rush, dozens of enterprises were set up, but many failed through lack of attention to consistent supply of plant materials, quality control, plant diseases, and technology selection. One lesson learned was the need to better organise the sector with the assistance of a professional association, SYPEAM, which now provides support to producers through training and technical information. It is a rewarding, but exacting market to conquer, and one where quality counts. But there are abuses: because of the oils concentrated nature, unscrupulous traders sometimes blend in synthetic oils. Not only could this get noticed in quality inspections by purchasing agents, but it will also lead to rejection by customers, who believe that only natural products contain the life elements that are central to the oils invigorative or restful values. The market for essential oils is attractive, but it is also volatile, especially now that it is in fashion. Yet, if high standards can be maintained, it could reward you with the sweet smell of success. For further information: International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades (IFEAT), Federation House, 6 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JJ, UK. Fax: + 44 171 836 0580. Website: http://www.ifeat.org.uk/ Essential Oils World, PO Box 72, Chipping Norton, Oxon, OX7 6JU, UK. Fax: +44 1608 659 257 Website: www.cotpubco.demon.co.uk/cosweb/eswhome.html SYPEAM (SYndicat Professionnel des producteurs d'Extraits Aromatiques alimentaires et médicinaux de Madagascar) B P 1348, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar Fax: +261 2022 26921 Email: email@example.com Website: www.sinergic.mg/sypeam/default.htm