Capacity Development Project for Sustainable Forest Management (CADEP-SFM)


Title :Production of Frankincense for making Uunsi fragrance in Erigavo District, Somalia

Audience :Farmers, Agricultural Officers
Country :somalia
Category :Crop


Erigavo District is located in central Sanaag region of northern Somalia. The District is the largest and most populous in Sanaag region. About, 10 km to the north of the Erigavo are remnants of a juniper forest, found along the edge of the escarpment overlooking the Gulf of Aden. The escarpment is approximately 2,000 m above sea level. The Erigavo settlement within the District is several centuries old and lies approximately 60 km from the ancient northern town of Maydh. The area is also known for its numerous historical tombs.
Climate in Erigavo is semi-arid. Despite its location in the tropics, temperatures rarely exceed 300C due to its high altitude. The Erigavo receives less than 400 mm of rain annually. Monthly average temperatures range from 14.30C in the month of December to 19.70C in the month of July. Absolute minimum temperatures are sometimes below 00C.


• To Improve farmers’ income
• To enhance socio-cultural values


Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes and is obtained from Boswellia sacra. Boswellia is a small deciduous tree, height of 2 to 8 m, with one or more trunks. Its bark has a paper texture and can be easily removed. The tree has compound leaves with odd number of leaflets, which grow opposite to one another along its branches. The Boswellia harvested in the North Eastern Bari area of Somalia is believed to produce resins with unique scent and stickiness.
To produce the perfume, a resinous sap is harvested and extracted by making a small, shallow incision on the trunk or branches of the tree, or by removing a part of the bark. Once the incision is made, a milky substance that coagulates once in contact with air and sap is collected by hand.
Somali (uunsi amber) fragrance is blended by combining the age-old art and recipe of natural handmade bakhoor, which is made from a variety of classical and exotic attars (oils). Each fragrance is enriched with various natural ingredients including; agar wood, aromatic wood, sugar oud, musk, exotic flower essence and essential oils, floral waters and frankincense (luban). Somali (uunsi) fragrance is boiled while the conventional bakhoor is baked. The fragrance is of premium quality and is handmade.

harvesting harvesting2
Harvesting of gum from the tree

harvesting3 harvesting4
Sap/gum draining from the tree                                        Processed gum


Social economic: increased farmers’ income from production of Uunsi amber Socio-cultural: Uunsi amber releases fragrance that is pleasant to smell and refreshes the environment

Ecological: Boswelia trees are conserved thus enhances biodiversity


• The resin is produced by tapping the trees and thus there is no destructive harvesting
• Livelihoods of communities are improved


• The fragrance is also used in medical field for; improving gut functions, alleviating asthma attack and curing certain types of cancers.
• The production of the fragrance is an innovation


The challenges encountered in applying the good practice include:

• The tree grows in northern part of the Somalia only
• Prolonged drought and winter season in the area affects resin production. Lessons learned

Some lessons learnt include:

• Farmers can produce fragrance without modern technology
• Boswellia sacra tolerates harsh environmental conditions and can grow in calcareous soil


Uunsi amber is traditionally made perfume incense by Somali women and is a viable enterprise with a potential to improve farmer's income


Uunsi amber is traditionally made perfume incense by Somali women and is a viable enterprise with a potential to improve farmer's income

Mr. kenadid Mumin Cali is acknowledged for collecting, documenting and sharing the good practice

Mohamed Omar Mohamed Alim and Abdifatah Mohamed Mukhtar

Contact Us


CADEP-SFM head office is located at KEFRI headquarters in Muguga. 23 km north-west of Nairobi, off Nairobi - Nakuru highway.
P.O. Box 20412 - 00200 Nairobi.

Share your good practices here...

Attach word document