co-owner & CEO of Van Aroma from Indonesia
We began sourcing and processing patchouli from Sulawesi more than 10 years ago. On our many trips to the island, we noticed that there are an incredible number of clove plantations, but hardly anyone was distilling clove stems and leaves. The buds were sold, but the rest of the plant was rarely used. We started out small and spoke with the first few farmers about the fact that they could also use the leaves of the clove tree to increase their income. We now distill all of the components, even the clove bud dust that gets left behind when cleaning the buds.
There are two ideas we have pursued to make the project as sustainable as possible. First, we have expanded distillation in our factory in Kolaka and are now able to process significantly more raw materials. Secondly, we have started financing distillation equipment to the farmers on credit and teaching them how to operate the equipment directly on-site. For this, we also work closely with Symrise, one of our important customers – another example of our close partnerships here on Sulawesi. There are now around 300 farmers collecting the leaves, three of whom have their own distilleries. The project has quickly shown its value – they were able to pay off their loans within six to twelve months. And we get something out of this setup as well: good quality, sustainable, traceable and reliably available clove products that we are also able to market worldwide through our cooperation with Symrise.
“We began sourcing and processing patchouli from Sulawesi more than 10 years ago.”