Production and Utilization of Patchouli Oil in Indonesia

Patchouli (Figure 1) with the scientific name of Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth., a member of the Lamiaceae family, has been used for a medical plant in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medical systems for centuries (Peter, 1997). It is well-known also as the aromatic plant producing an essential oil called by patchouli oil which is extracted from all parts of the plant especially leaves. The patchouli oil has a great commercial value in the perfume and cosmetic industries due to it has a unique woody odor (Anonis, 2007), long lasting and strong fixative properties (Adhavan et al., 2017), and one of the most important materials available to the perfumer (Haarmann and Reimer, 1985). On the human health, the patchouli oil has several beneficial effects to treat dysentery, diarrhea, cold without fever, vomiting, and nausea (Swamy et al., 2015) as well as anti-inflammatory (Chen et al., 2017). In addition, the patchouli alcohol has demonstrated numerous bioactivities, such as anti-insecticidal (Park and Park., 2012), anti-bacterial and anti-fungal (Adhavan et al., 2017), etc.

Figure 1. Patchouli plant

The demand of patchouli oil in perfumery and other markets has increased dramatically worldwide. Van Beek and Joulain (2018) revealed that approximately 90% of global production of 1,200−1,300 metric tons per annum was realized in Indonesia, although this value is slightly lower compared to the report by Swamy et al. (2015), Directorate General of Estate Crps, Ministry of Agriculture (2020), and others about 2,000 tons of patchouli oil. The production of patchouli oil in Indonesia from 2015 to 2021 was relatively constant in the range of 1,937−2,207 tons (Table 1). It was estimated to occupy the third position of all essential oils produced by Indonesia in 2016 and 2017, after that until 2020 its position was declined to the fourth after turpentine oil, clove oil, and citronella oils (DAI, 2021; Gunawan, 2021).

Table 1 showed the constant productivity and production of patchouli oil until 2021. However, the cultivation area of patchouli had declined approximately by 20% because patchouli can not be planted in the same location and indeed known as a very nutrient hungry plant. In addition, there are other reasons caused by inappropriate environmental factors (BP2LKH, 2016) and viruses-caused diseases (Noveriza et al., 2021) as well as farmers decision of switching patchouli with other higher economic value crops (Arifin, 2019).

Generally, there are three species of patchouli plants that are cultivated in Indonesia and they are differentiated according to their morphological character, quality and quantity of patchouli oil, and resistance against biotic and abiotic stresses (Nuryani, 2006). Guenther (1952) reported those species as P. cablin Benth. called by Aceh patchouli “nilam Aceh”, P. heyneanus Benth. called by Java patchouli “nilam Jawa”, and P. hortensis Becker called by nilam Sabun.

Indonesian Spice and Medicinal Crops Research Institute (ISMCRI) has developed 5 excellent varieties of patchouli, i.e., Tapak Tuan, Sidikalang, Lhokseumawe, Patchoulina 1, and Patchoulina 2 (Table 2). Production and content of patchouli oil as well as the content of patchouli alcohol from those excellent varieties have values that are significantly different (ISMCRI, 2022). Sidikalang variety has the highest values for production (624.9 metric tons/ha/year) and content (4.2%) of patchouli oils, while Patchoulina 1 variety contains the highest patchouli alcohol (36.3%). Sidikalang shows a high tolerance to wilt disease caused by bacteria and nematodes (Nuryani, 2006).

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