Essential oils from the omumbiri and omutati

27 July 2016 | Business

A community project based at Opuwo has shown that exporting raw materials is not the solution but finding ways to extract essential oils from tree seeds and resin within Namibia is the way to go.
The community-owned Opuwo Processing Facility (OPF) extracts essential oils from the seed of the Colophospermum Mopane and the resin from the Commiphora Wildii, locally known as the omutati and omumbiri respectively.
After being extracted at the facility the oils are sold to companies in Windhoek, and also exported to countries such as France, South Africa and Germany, where they are used in products such as body lotion, hand cream, body soaps and solid perfume.
OPF production manager Jeckey Kasaona told Ewi Iyanooli how the community project improves the living standards of local people and boosts Opuwo’s image as a tourism destination.
Kasaona said the facility makes a difference in the lives of the locals who collect these raw materials in the Purros, Orupembe, Marienflus, Sanitatas and Okondjombo conservancies, who jointly own the facility.
Kasaona said the project aims to support primary producer organisations (PPOs) to develop an essential oil business in the Kunene Region.
The project was initially supported by Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) and then received additional funding from the Namibian Essential Oil Innovation Project (NEOIP). Since January 2012 it has been coordinated by the Natural Resource Institute (NRI) so that OPF could be developed into a functioning essential-oil distillation plant.

Benefits to the community

Kasaona said the project has a number of benefits to the town of Opuwo and to the Namibian people who support locally produced products.
The benefits include income generation for the raw material collectors, and making Opuwo a tourist attraction.
“We are uplifting the lives of the people, especially the women who collect the seeds and resin, because they can use the money they get from us to pay for their children’s school fees, pay for their medical expenses and buy food, for example,” he said.
He said the plan is to acquire the necessary machines to produce finished end products too, which would create more jobs for local people.
“The idea is to produce goods locally and export finished products to other countries and not the other way around where we export our raw materials and import the finished products from other countries,” Kasaona said.

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