Namibian myrrh essential oil
Known as omumbiri among the semi-nomadic Himba people of Namibia’s Kunene Region, the resin of Commiphora wildii is traditionally collected and combined with red ochre to create the Himba womens’ striking, perfumed skin treatment. These women now sustainably harvest additional myrrh for the KCINP Trust, which was formed to manage and equitably market the natural resources of the Kunene. The Trust represents five Kunene communities, grouped into Conservancies and Community Forests that have been granted the right to protect and manage their natural resources by Namibia’s national conservation program.
During the harvesting season, myrrh is aggregated at collection points throughout the Kunene and brought to the regional capital of Opuwo. There, the resin is aged and steam-distilled at a processing facility owned and operated by the Trust. The fragrance is clean and fresh, smooth and slightly spicy, with a citrus or lemon scent that is often compared to frankincense. Unlike dark or bitter essential oils distilled from myrrhs produced by other Commiphora species, Namibian myrrh essential oil is translucent and light. It is now used around the world in cosmetics, perfume and aromatherapy.
Country of origin:
October - February
How it’s produced
The KCINP Trust is an established producer of indigenous essential oils with a pioneering dedication to environmental and social responsibility.
Himba women who belong to the KCINP Trust wild harvest omumbiri during the hot, dry months when the resinous myrrh is exuded by the Commiphora wildii species. Only naturally exuded myrrh is collected and incisions are never made in the trees. The Trust evaluates the C. wildii population to determine sustainable harvesting practices, using an ecological management plan to ensure that commercialisation does not negatively impact the species or its environment.
The communities represented by the Trust have always been vulnerable to drought, but their way of life is increasingly threatened by climate change. The production of Namibian myrrh essential oil generates supplementary income that helps to sustain their way of life and preserve their traditional knowledge. While Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) legislation is yet to be implemented in Namibia, the Trust is community owned and their benefit distribution plan ensures that all members of the local Conservancies and Community Forests benefit from the marketing of their natural resources.