The extraction of essential oils for the fragrances and flavours markets is a lucrative, high value business. It is not an area which Guyana has exploited, yet our climate and large tracts of fertile land positions us to take advantage of these markets.
The IAST has a renovated pilot scale steam distillation unit and we are now extracting lemongrass, sweet sage and ginger essential oils.
In June, 2016 three interns at the Institute from the University of Toronto, were engaged together with institute staff in assessing the economic and social impacts of having a vertically integrated business related to essential oil bearing plants cultivated in backyards on the coast and extracted at the IAST (and then in a commercially sized facility) and sold to international markets. Their report provided an indication of social and economic impacts, as well as identified capital investment requirements and technical and business hurdles, it was none the less a positive assessment of the possibility of such a project. Additionally, there is already a high-value demand for lemongrass essential oil as an ingredient in Rupununi Essence.
This work has the potential of spawning an entirely new (to Guyana) agriculture industry to produce high value flavours and fragrances.