Essential oil is an aromatic volatile substance (named after the French 'essence', not the English 'essential') extracted by distillation or expression from a single botanical species. The resulting oil should have nothing added either during or after this process. Essential oils are used as flavors and fragrances for food, soap, detergents, perfumes, lotions, etc
Currently, Rwanda is growing a range of essential oils such as Geranium (Pelagonium graveolens), Patchouli, Lemongrass, eucalyptus, etc. Growers are organized in the cooperatives from which some are under certification process for organic and NOP standards compliance. The existing producers plan to expand their existing crop acreage to achieve better economies of scale. Rwanda produces geranium oil which is 100% organic.
Rwandan Essential oils farmers are organized in cooperatives and associations that are dedicated to maximizing their profits in essential oils farming. Essential oils farming has been improving farmers’ social livelihoods as well as empowering them to transform their communities. Rwanda emphasizes in fostering association/cooperative autonomy and self-sufficiency, while providing various trainings such as agribusiness management. The cooperatives farming structures are also a valuable social arrangement for fostering strong relationships among farmers.
Their labor is valued and immensely contributes to the world with their sweet essence. Rwandan geranium, lemongrass and patchouli organic farms complement with their subtle fragrance. A distillery in Rwanda produces the purest organic geranium, lemongrass, eucalyptus and patchouli oils. The country is working hand in hand with the essential oils farmers to.
Although the international demand for high quality essential oils keeps growing, the marketing of essential oils is extremely quality dependent. Therefore, the product should be value-added and targeted into niche markets rather than sold as bulk oil. Once, end users develop a product using specific oil, they often resist changing the suppliers as this may change the product. Therefore, it is often difficult for new producers to break into the market but once they have, they can easily expect constant demand. Knowledge of essential oil markets and good marketing skills always assist in marketing the product.
Essential oils produced in Rwanda are currently sold directly by the processing firms. The domestic market is small and reached through high-end hotels and boutiques. The main market is the international market, though only one firm, Ikirezi Natural Products, is currently selling its essential oils products for exports.
Geranium, patchouli and rose are primarily used in the fragrances market where the whole oil is used. Eucalyptus and lemon grass are lower value oils used as a source of specific compounds. Geranium, eucalyptus, and lemongrass are among the most highly demanded essential oils. Leading consumers of essential oils are the USA, followed by Western Europe and Japan