During the last 25-30 years the world of frankincense has undergone profound changes. Not only has there been a worldwide boom in demand, which has put great stress on the frankincense supply chain, but also the structure and geography of the market have undergone significant transformations. These changes have taken place against a background of a fluid and sometimes deteriorating socio-economic and political situation in many of the major producing countries. Few people in the industry are aware that a large proportion of the frankincense they buy comes from areas where poverty, limited governance, and drought are the norm. The challenge that faces this trade today is how to sustainably channel some of the gains made through the massive growth in demand for frankincense back to those who harvest, grade and manage this fabled ancient commodity. One short article will not answer this question, but we want to encourage the reader to think beyond the exotic stories and promotional material that are so often held to represent the reality of frankincense and instead begin to search for, invest in, and promote solutions that aim to improve the livelihoods and socio-economic status of the people who harvest this ancient commodity. Although there are real, serious challenges in these supply chains, there are also real solutions to ensure the benefits of the trade actually benefit the communities that live with, own, and manage the trees. As people and companies who use and love frankincense, it is our responsibility to ensure these solutions are enacted.
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