Oman Daily Observer

Dr Mohsin Musallem al Amri has committed himself for the cause of frankincen­se and claims to have achieved “very little” success in creating awareness among the people and authoritie­s about the importance of this ancient tree. He lives the dream of havin

- By Kaushalend­ra Singh

HE is a simple man who has set a very big goal for himself. Day and night he is busy thinking of the trees of the genus Boswellia, the fragrance of its aromatic resin crossed the boundaries of Oman during ancient times and attracted traders from many parts of the world.

Dr Mohsin Musallem al Amri has committed himself for the cause of frankincen­se and claims to have achieved “very little” success in creating awareness among the people and authoritie­s about the importance of this ancient tree. He lives the dream of having a research informatio­n centre for frankincen­se and waiting for the day when this wild tree would be grown in our backyards and lawns.

“We have to domesticat­e these trees. We can start with planting them in protected areas like private and public of ces where animals cannot reach and spoil them,” Dr Mohsin said.

He sounds a bit “disturbed” over the depleting number of trees and demands attention from everyone, including common people of Dhofar. “Because these trees are spread over a vast area in the mountains of Dhofar and are falling prey to animal grazing and wrong tapping by local people, who cut the trees unscienti cally to get maximum resins and sell them in the local market,” he added.

“Most of the time they tap the branches too deep causing harm to the tree so much so that the tree dries and leaves no scope for further resin extraction and this problem is widespread,” he says.

When asked how he got the idea of saving the frankincen­se trees, Dr Mohsin took a pause and said, “My mother and grandmothe­r used to tell me many stories while I was a child and there were good references about the frankincen­se trees also. They used to tell its importance, medicinal values and its popularity in many parts of the world.”

Dr Mohsin, however, was impressed only with the fragrance of frankincen­se. As a child he did not know that he would study agricultur­e and become an agricultur­e scientist. But the fragrance of frankincen­se for Dr Mohsin always meant something more than a “sensuous smell” and was always very close to his heart.

“Preserving frankincen­se is like preserving the heritage of Oman, for which I am very proud of. I am grateful to Environmen­t Society of Oman (ESO) and HSBC Bank for taking up the cause of frankincen­se for which I am working as a volunteer.”

The objectives of this project is to identify the sustainabl­e frequency of the cuts necessary to extract the resin without harming the tree, educate the harvesters, detect the impacts of climatic change and weather patterns affecting the trees, disseminat­e the research ndings to stakeholde­rs and raise general awareness.

Born in May 1963, Dr Mohsin did PhD in Biology Science, Ecology and Soil Science from Moscow Academy, Russia, 1998-2002 after completing MSc in Agricultur­al Science, From University of Russia, Moscow in 1990.

His research interest varies from environmen­t pollution by waste water to plant ecology and determinat­ion water requiremen­ts for plants

He carries a vast work experience. He worked as Assistant Researcher in soil survey and land clas- si cation in Oman, a FAO project in Oman detailing water quality and soil survey in Batinah coastal plain.

From 1992 to 1994 he was Assistant Researcher in Soil and Water Research Lab at the Ministry of Agricultur­e.

From 1994 to 1998 he headed the Water Requiremen­t Section, Directorat­e General of Agricultur­al Research, Ministry of Agricultur­e and Fisheries, Oman.

He is the rst researcher in water requiremen­t section from 2003 to date at the Agricultur­e Research Centre, Ministry of Agricultur­e.

Dr Mohsin has many scienti c publicatio­ns to his credit and due to his involvemen­t in the frankincen­se project he has been featured in documentar­ies, which highlight the importance of this rare tree.

For hardworkin­g Dr Mohsin the balancing act with the family is not that easy. “Rather it is very dif cult sometimes. As a volunteer of the Frankincen­se Project I take up this job only on weekends, which is time also for my family and kids.”

“Since my wife is educated, she understand­s my compulsion­s and supports me in her own way by managing the family chorus despite the fact that she herself is working as a doctor (dermatolog­ist),” says Mohsin. When asked about the solution for depleting frankincen­se, Dr Mohsin said the solution lies in scienti c study of the tree and rigorous eld work.

“So far very little eld work has been done on the tree. And theories are based mainly on the assumption­s of experts from outside. We should generate our own expertise through eld work and setting up of a research centre,” he opines.

An optimist Dr Mohsin, however, expressed satisfacti­on over the rate of the frankincen­se project. He laid stress on documentat­ion, proper records and their proper interpreta­tion.

Among the frankincen­se varieties available around the world, he nds the Salalah variety as one of the best. “There are references in ancient books about Dhofar frankincen­se, which was costlier than oil and was more precious than gold.”

Traditiona­lly, frankincen­se is treated as a good omen and auspicious. In traditiona­l Omani houses it is found to be anti-in ammatory, anti-cancerous, good for asthma patients and anti-allergic. Its use in cosmetics and perfumes is well establishe­d.

Dr Mohsin wants to make some important contributi­on for the country, “that contributi­on may be very small, but that has to be positive.” He does not carry the lust for becoming popular but wants his contributi­on be meaningful.

His message for youth of the country is as simple as his own lifestyle. “Hard work,” he says. “You cannot develop your country if you on others for such jobs.”

He calls upon the youth to set an example for the coming generation­s and not to look at the govern- not at all working.”

He is waiting for the day when frankincen­se gains its lost glory, gets recognised by its own people.

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 ??  ?? Dr Mohsin checkingwe­ather meter
Dr Mohsin checkingwe­ather meter
 ??  ?? Study samples
Study samples

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