Organic, Fair Trade and Social: Essential Rose Oil from Ethiopia

Take a look through your cosmetics – for sure you will find at least one or the other item that tempts your nose with the smell of roses. In the beauty industry the Damask Rose, the rosa damascena, is the most widely used: From skin cream, rose oil, moisturisers and different types of make-up, this type of rose accounts for 90% of the rose oil and absolutes produced. While Turkey, Bulgaria and Iran are the most commonly known countries of rose production, Ethiopia would probably not be one of the first countries you associate with roses. Well, what a mistake!

Ethiopian roses used in beauty products by Dr. Hauschka

The conditions for rose production in Ethiopia are excellent: In fact, one of the key benefits of growing roses near the equator is that the lifespan of the bloom increases to double the time. This has major economic benefits as it allows farmers more time to harvest and requires fewer pickers who can be employed for a longer period of time. What is more, Ethiopian roses are nearly twice as heavy as blossoms from other production countries, which means that more can be yielded from each plant. Natural cosmetic brand Dr. Hauschka discovered these excellent conditions many years ago introducing organic standards to the production and ever since works together with a local partner in Ethiopia to source the magical beauty ingredient.

Rose Plantation for Rose oil in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Farmers on Fair Trade Rose Plantation

So, Ethiopian roses are truly powerful, not only to moisturise and soften our skin, or make us smell like a flower when leaving the shower… With their social engagement Dr. Hauschka also manages to support local farmers and promote biological agriculture across the globe. We love!

Dr. Hauschka and the Damask Rose

Dr. Hauschka is one of the companies using roses in their formulas – nearly all of the Dr. Hauschka products contain one or another rose ingredient. These ingredients are sourced and produced in various countries and since 2005, Ethiopia is one of them. Back then the WALA Heilmittel GmbH, mother company of Dr. Hauschka, started a cooperation with Ethiopian farmers in Debre Birhan, a city north of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. Here, high up in the mountains, they started cultivating Damask roses while strictly working with raw materials only, under biodynamic agricultural principles. In 2012, they distilled the first batch of essential rose oil, which is particularly special, as this was the first rose oil production entirely subject to organic standards in sub-Saharan Africa.

Rose Fields in Ethiopia for Rose oil

Rose Oil Production in Ethiopia

Rose Blossoms during Oil Production in Ethiopia

Fair Trade And Social Responsibility

ABURY is putting a strong focus on fair trade production – yes – but for us fair trade is also common sense. What we stand for is going beyond that and finding ways to give back. That is exactly why we love the WALA / Dr. Hauschka – Ethiopia partnership: When they started working with Ethiopian farmer Fekade Lakew, they decided to fund the rose cuttings on the one hand, and in addition to that provided him with a consultant, who would introduce him to biodynamic cultivation methods and train him so he could sustainably continue his work. To make sure that employees can be paid their wages on a regular basis and to give local partners security, WALA / Dr. Hauschka is purchasing all of the rose oil produced at the farm for a period of ten years. In order to become independent, Fekade Lakew will be able to offer his produce to other buyers after that.

Production unit for Rose oil in Ethiopia

So, next time you indulge in a beauty session at home take a look at what’s in your products. The thought of purchasing a skin cream and supporting the growth of fair trade in Ethiopia makes a session like that even more enjoyable, doesn’t it?

Lara Petersen

Lara Petersen

After her studies abroad and exploring the world for many years, Lara returned to Berlin in 2015 and ever since combines her passions cultures, communication and writing by working as part of the ABURY family. Lara is the editor-in-chief and admin of the One of a Mind blogzine by ABURY.

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