Frankincense Frankincense (Oman, Somaliland, Ethiopia)

Location:
Oman, Somaliland, Ethiopia

2021 Sourcing Impact

People empowered with sourcing jobs:

7,611

Lives supported by sourcing jobs:

34,782

Lives impacted through social impact projects:

600,000

Frankincense

Frankincense Boswellia carterii, sacra, papyrifera, and frereana

dōTERRA Frankincense Essential Oil is used topically or ingested for modern day health benefits. Enjoy Frankincense, the ‘king of oils’ to uplift your spirit.

Why Oman, Somaliland, and Ethiopia?

Our Frankincense essential oil is a proprietary blend of four species of frankincense resin: Boswellia carterii, B. papyrifera, B. frereana, and B. sacra. Different frankincense trees thrive in different environments and soil types. For example, B. carterii trees grow best in sandy soils, while B. frereana trees grow best on dry, rocky terrain. B. frereana trees also produce the largest resin tears of the species.

We source from multiple locations to ensure we’re harvesting resin where each Boswellia species grows best—reducing environmental pressure on any single species.

The Production Process

Frankincense has been a highly valued commodity for millennia, dating back to ancient Egypt, Assyria, and more. The precious resin comprises the oldest global supply chain.

The essential oil comes from the resin tears of the frankincense tree. Harvesters typically make shallow cuts in the bark, from which resin seeps out. The resin is left for two weeks to crystallize into “tears,” which are then scraped off the tree. This process repeats over multiple weeks throughout the harvesting season. Resin tears are carefully cleaned and organized by size and color by women before distillation.

Our Frankincense essential oil comes from the Sanaag region of the Cal Madow Mountain range in Somaliland. Approximately a third of Somaliland’s population lives in this region, and frankincense harvesting is a main source of employment. The trees are passed down through generations, and harvesters have access to specific regions by tribal rite.

Frankincense Essential Oil | doTERRA Behind the Bottle: Episode 8

Normally, the resin is harvested, sold to shopkeepers (who then sell it to intermediaries and consolidators), and eventually exported. However, this system often takes advantage of the harvesters, who end up being paid the lowest wage for the hardest work.

In contrast, we go directly to the people who harvest and sort the resin. We’ve even contributed significantly to the construction of warehouses where the resin is collected, sorted, and stored (again, primarily by women), which provides important employment opportunities in these remote areas. These warehouses function like a cooperative, organizing harvesters and shopkeepers into a network.

Working at the source provides improved transparency, fairness, employment opportunities, and security for those participating in the supply chain and adding the most value. Our efforts are made possible by the Co-Impact Sourcing® traceability model.

People Empowered: Fair and On-Time Payments

Our Co-Impact Sourcing initiative for Frankincense essential oil provides harvesters with fair wages and on-time payments (including food and cash prepayments spread out during the year) by working directly with those who harvest and sort. This arrangement provides a stabler, more reliable income to harvesters.

Impact Stories: Environmental Stewardship

We’re also proud to support research and sustainability initiatives protecting frankincense trees through our Responsible Frankincense Strategy (RFS). Many frankincense trees have been overharvested, which means the trees have too many cuts or the cuts are too deep. As part of RFS, we’ve partnered with local universities in these sourcing countries and international organizations to carry out two initiatives.

First, traceability systems have been established to oversee harvesting and land management. Traceability includes identifying each harvested tree and monitoring its health status by evaluating depth and frequency of cuts.

In Somaliland, our research team is collecting GPS information for satellite imagery. In Ethiopia, overharvesting isn’t the primary threat to the longevity of frankincense trees; land conversion is. The solution is to propagate frankincense seedlings and cuttings in protected environments.

Nurseries for propagation are part of the second initiative. In Erigavo, the Frankincense Sustainability Research Center is a recently built nursery with two greenhouses. It’s an experimental site that evaluates optimal growing conditions for cuttings and seedlings.

In Oman, our sourcing partner runs the largest private frankincense nursery and plantation, with hundreds of trees ranging from four to eight years old and thousands of smaller trees now growing well. The research and initiatives we support ensure these trees and ecologies thrive and continue supporting communities and livelihoods.

Frankincense Essential Oil | doTERRA Behind the Bottle: Episode 10

Impact Stories: Social Impact

The doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation® has assisted leaders from multiple clans—or patrilineal groups—in Uurwayne, Somaliland, united in their efforts to provide educational opportunities for their children. The doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation donated funds toward the construction of a middle-grade school for boys and girls, with classes for older children in the evening. Approximately 120 children from 16 villages have attended. Another four-classroom school was constructed to help 100 more students from other areas have increased access to education.

The doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation also provides immediate aid as needed. In 2017, a severe drought left more than 6,000,000 Somalianders—half the country’s population—devastated by dying livestock and failing crops. doTERRA promptly responded to the crisis by donating significant emergency drought relief funds to support 4,000 families in the 32 villages most severely affected. Furthermore, two schools that the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation had previously funded served as relief centers during the crisis.

Most recently, the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation donated more than $4,000,000 to establish the Sanaag Specialty Hospital, a nonprofit regional hospital located in Erigavo, responding to the critical healthcare needs in Sanaag—home of Somaliland’s primary frankincense harvesting. The hospital opened in May 2021. It includes a 45-bed facility and hosts accident and emergency, outpatient, diagnostics, maternity, and pediatric departments.

The Sanaag Specialty hospital aims to be a model referral hospital by providing the highest-quality care for the most remote, underserved populations. Improved access to lifesaving services impacts tens of thousands of people living and working in the heart of Somaliland’s resin harvesting area. To learn more, visit the official hospital website at https://sanaagspecialtyhospital.org/.

doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation | Sanaag Specialty Hospital

The doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation also actively supports and funds clean water initiatives in Ethiopian harvesting areas, which address an urgent need for these harvesting communities.

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