When Ylang-Ylang essential oil becomes sustainable


    Ylang-Ylang is a valuable resource for the Comoros. Once it has been distilled, it becomes a very popular essential oil. Since 2013, the NGO Initiative Développement , which has been operating in the country for 20 years, has been implementing a wood-saving distillation model thanks to AFD’s support. This is setting the industry on a path towards sustainable development.


    A core activity, but a source of deforestation

    The Ylang-Ylang essential oil produced in the Comoros has a quality second to none and is very popular with perfumers. It does, however, pose a threat to the environment and agricultural production systems.

    Distillation, which is almost always a traditionally-based process, does indeed consume large volumes of wood: it takes a ton of wood to produce 3 kilos of essential oil!


    © Initiative Développement

    Wood-saving and innovative stove revitalizes the industry

    The NGO Initiative Développement (ID) has been contributing to the sustainability of the industry for 4 years by working with Comorian distillers: this is the FY-DAFE (Ylang Industry – Wood-Saving Stove Distillation) project.

    An initial two-year phase was necessary in order to understand their needs: weighing, testing and distilling with them led to the development of an effective and easily appropriated technical solution. This field experience gave rise to a new wood-saving model for the stove distillation unit. This stove is called UDAFE (wood-saving stove distillation unit) and is manufactured in the Comoros.

    Industry geared more towards sustainable development

    The technology has been broadly disseminated for 2 years now, with 37 sites equipped in Anjouan and 3 in Mohéli, and has proved its worth: a 50% saving on wood and fourfold increase in the economic margin of distillation.

    4,000 industry stakeholders have now benefited from the positive impacts of the project, from distillers to pickers, thanks to the training provided on entrepreneurship by the ID team.

    5,000 trees saved every year

    Some 5,000 trees will be saved every year thanks to the 40 UDAFEs. This figure should double over the next two years of the project.

    ID also works with the Comorian NGO Dahari on the development of a component for the sustainable management of wood, water and flower resources.

    The relevance and originality of the FY-DAFE project, as well as its initial results, earned it an Energy Globe Award – Comoros in 2016 (from a jury made up of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, World Bank and European Renewable Energy Council).

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