‘Clear biomarkers sought to make Omani frankincense commercially viable’

Frankincense can be more than a thing of tradition for Oman as Omani frankincense is rated as one of the best in the world. The best way to conserve it is to find a commercial solution, to make people understand its value and work on a long-term plan to make the product more commercially viable.
L Denzil Phillips, an international consultant on medicinal plants and organic wellness products, puts stress looking for clear chemical biomarkers for the different species of boswellia and called for more research in the area not only to conserve one of the rare plant species but also to make it a more commercially viable product.
Philipps, who has worked as an adviser on high value crops and products with many of the world’s leading companies and organisations including the World Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, and European Commission, said not much work had been done to define clear chemical biomarkers for the different species of boswellia.
For this he called for GIS mapping frankincense forests, which according to him, is critical to future supply. “Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a specialised, database-driven computer information system. The GIS allows users to capture, store, display, manipulate and analyse geographically referenced data using satellite imagery.”
Without a base line data base of the status of the boswellia tree population how can one judge its rate of decline in the future, asked Phillips to substantiate his point for adopting GIS mapping of Oman’s frankincense forests.
Commenting on its commercial viability, he said the commercial potential of Omani frankincense had not yet been fully tapped due to lack of research and understanding among the people about the “great value” the product stores.
“That is why the benefit of it is not percolating down to the farmers, as they are content only with selling raw frankincense, while those involved commercially are reaping maximum fruit out of it,” he said.
He called upon the farmers, traders and environment authorities to take necessary steps not only to conserve this national heritage but also to make serious business out of it because demand
for frankincense is growing while availability of the best quality is limited only to some areas including Oman.
Demand for Omani frankincense, according to him, is increasing in the eastern and western markets due to the fact that the traditional supply centres of frankincense were not reliable. He also called for GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping of Oman’s frankincense forests, which according to him, is critical to future production and supply.

Kaushalendra Singh