Patchouli in Rwanda - perfume industry safety net? Economic safety net for Rwandans?
The price of patchouli essential oil has skyrocketed in the past year. An crucial and historic scent in perfume and body care products, various issues have conspired to create a shortage and suppliers and formulators are scrambling to control cost increases in their products.
I know I'm an eternal optimist. I also have a strong background in ethnobotany, economic botany and agriculture. I specialized in tropical and subtropical agriculture in my studies, keep this in mind when you check out the You Tube link, below.
In 2005, a team from Haiti met with the President of Rwanda to propose a Patchouli project. There is a series of five videos on You Tube recording the process of establishing a patchouli essential oil industry in Rwanda by the movers and shakers of this project. The videos are educational and uplifting. I am very aware of he political and military turmoils of Rwanda, having several close friends who traveled there in the aftermath and are helping with the rebuilding. Relative stability has returned, more so in some areas than others. When poverty is addressed in a forthright and productive way, all may prosper. Perhaps patchouli is one economic way to move forward.
Patchouli essential oil prices have skyrocketed recently due to many factors in the countries producing the heady oil. A few years ago environmental and political maladies struck the vanilla absolute industry, and those with vision took cuttings to India and Indonesia and now vanilla prices - for the beans, not the absolute as it appears the extractors have kept the price artificially high - have come back to a reasonable level.
I love the methodical way in which the questions about establishing and distilling the oil are addressed. Distillation units in place - at this time for geranium - appear in videos # 4 and 5.
Sustainable agriculture, and opportunistic agriculture to replace the fields that may be disappearing due to urban development, desertification or other reasons will always exist, so I do not despair very much when I hear of problems (such as the vanilla crisis of teh early 2000's.)
I find the videos very uplifting and relaxing -- and realistic in what may occur.