INP tab Commiphora Supply chain

The supply chain within Namibia is well organised. Harvesters register with the conservancy or community forest and receive training from IRDNC. Buying points are established within the conservancies/community forests and staff members are trained to check the quality of resin, weigh it and record the data. Money from the IRDNC Revolving Fund provides funding for the harvester to be paid on the same day that she/ he delivers it to the buying point. At the beginning of each harvest season, each conservancy is allocated a quota depending on the amount of cash available for purchase and orders received. The buckets or drums of resin are transported to Opuwo and stored at processing facility until they are sold or processed.

During the first few years of harvesting, the resin was stored until it could be sold to companies with the ability to extract the essential oil. Since the resin contains only about 6% essential oil, this meant that much of the material shipped to France was discarded as waste once the oil was extracted. In 2009 the Opuwo Processing Facility was built and equipped with a hydro-still. It took almost two years to make necessary changes to the equipment, sort out water quality problems and get OPF operational. Selling the essential oil instead of the raw resin has broadened the potential customer base. Several local and Southern African cosmetics manufacturers are now including omumbiri essential oil in their product formulations. The Opuwo Processing Facility is owned by the Kunene Conservancies Indigenous Natural Products Trust, which represents the harvesters from the five conservancies.

The number of people becoming involved and registering as harvesters in each of the conservancies/community forests is steadily increasing as residents realise that the opportunity to earn income from high value plants is a reality. This was particularly evident during the drought conditions that existed in Kunene during 2012 and 2013. The income earned from harvesting helped many families buy food during this time. Almost all the members of these conservancies are also registered harvesters, although the female harvesters are the most active participants.Currently, 630 harvesters are registered in the five conservancies.

While omumbiri or Namibian myrrh is similar to traditional myrrh, its chemical profile and properties are different, and the market considers it to be a different product. The essential oils are sold to companies in Namibia, South Africa, France and Germany. The requirements for trading an essential oil in the EU are rigorous and a French company, V. Mane Fils which is based in Grasse, has been the commercial partner which has supported this process and assisted with the safety and other regulatory requirements.

The natural resources and the harvesters that manage this resource could easily increase the amount of resin sustainably harvested each season. Not only could the conservancies and community forests that are currently involved harvest more resin, but other community groups who also have the resource, could become involved in harvesting. The Opuwo Processing Facility has the capacity to produce more than 700 litres of omumbiri essential oil each year. The research and development phase of product development, as well as getting the product known in the market place, takes time but demand is growing steadily, especially within the Southern Africa market. Over the next few years, most of the focus will be on marketing this product locally and internationally.