In Sudan’s North Kordofan State, communities participating in the Near East Foundation’s project to improve livelihoods continue to benefit from important skills and opportunities gained through our work – in spite of growing challenges in the region.
The microcredit fund we helped establish is successfully supporting community members – providing them with financing to undertake activities that have increased their incomes, improved production, and protected local gum arabic (acacia) trees.
A total of 24 new projects have been launched by community members over the past several months in four villages. Combined with an average 20% increase in gum arabic production, some farmers have increased their incomes by as much as 900 Sudanese Pounds (SDG) – or $200 – per month.
These microcredit loans continue to have a high rate of repayment. When the funds are repaid, more money can be lent to community members for additional projects that improve livelihoods.
These improvements come at a critical time in our partner communities. Because of ongoing conflict in neighboring South Kordofan State, many nomads and pastoralists have traveled to North Kordofan – placing an increasing strain on their natural resources.
NEF’s work with gum arabic producer associations has developed the capacity of participating communities to constructively manage and protect their community’s natural resources. There's a growing public awareness about the importance of acacia trees, and the communities continue to establish protected forest areas around their villages.
Your support to vulnerable gum arabic farmers in North Kordofan helps build peace and promote sustainable livelihoods in Sudan. Thank you!
The rainy season in Sudan’s North Kordofan State lasts from approximately June to September of each year. Rains can leave the sandy environment covered with large puddles, and make roads impassable.
During this time, gum arabic farmers prepare for the planting season ahead. Crops and new seedlings are planted when the rains end.
This year, North Kordofan received good amounts of rainfall throughout the rainy season. As this arid region is frequently plagued by drought, farmers are hopeful that the extra rainfall will mean a good planting season and harvest.
The rains have recently ended, and we are currently working in partnership with the Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture to distribute Acacia seedlings to farmers in four targeted villages. These seedlings will help to further expand forest cover, and contribute to increased production and income for gum arabic farmers.
Similar seedling distribution and support during the last planting season helped targeted farmers to increase incomes by an average of 200 to 350 Sudanese pounds per year.
We still support these farmers and their Gum Arabic Producer Associations. Our field team has seen how farmers continue to use knowledge gained through the project to increase forest cover and improve gum harvesting methods – thereby improving livelihoods for their families. Individuals in surrounding villages have also benefited from trainings, as farmers have shared their new knowledge.
Your support to vulnerable gum arabic farmers in North Kordofan helps build peace and promote sustainable livelihoods in Sudan.
October 17th is a Bonus Day when Global Giving will match a portion of your gift. Please consider a donation to support impoverished rural farming families in Sudan. Thank you!
Participating gum Arabic farmers increased their incomes by an average of 200 to 350 Sudanese Pounds, or as much as $130 per family, after implementing new harvesting techniques learned through a Near East Foundation (NEF) project to improve livelihoods.
NEF is introducing the new harvesting techniques – as well as water management strategies and other simple agricultural technologies – to help gum Arabic farmers in Sudan break the poverty cycle, fight climate change, and conserve natural resources.
The recent, successful harvest in North Kordofan improved income for small-scale farmers while simultaneously expanding Acacia forest cover in the dry forest ecosystem where gum Arabic is produced.
To date, this NEF project has led 184 community-driven and community-financed activities to reduce pressure on Acacia woodlands. Activities are strengthening the rural economy and building sustainability in the forest ecosystems upon which rural livelihoods depend.
All of the participating Gum Arabic Producer Associations have now reported that they own protected forest areas around their villages. In these protected areas there is no arbitrary cutting of trees and no overgrazing.
The impact has extended to many neighboring villages (not trained or targeted by the project), which have received informal training from the leadership of participating Associations. After learning about the successful strategies, these neighboring villages have applied similar protection policies in their villages.
NEF is now preparing to provide communities with additional Acacia seedlings in the upcoming planting season, working in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Your support to vulnerable gum Arabic farmers in North Kordofan helps build peace and promote sustainable livelihoods in Sudan. Thank you!
In the past year, Gum Arabic Producer Associations participating in the Near East Foundation’s project to support farmers and fight poverty in Sudan have increased their microcredit funds by 25 percent—from 7,500 Sudanese Pounds (SDG) to 10,000 SDG—through loan reimbursements and fees from gum farmers who have borrowed money. Having more money in the funds means more money is available to loan in support of more impoverished rural families.
Gaining access to credit is a challenge for rural farmers in Sudan’s “Gum Belt,” where poverty rates are between 60 and 95 percent. The microcredit funds provided by this project support gum producers in their harvesting activities and in livelihood diversification, offering gum producers the capital they need to operate with favorable, non-predatory lending terms.
Gum Arabic harvesting is generally financed by local traders who act as intermediaries between gum producers and gum markets. The traders provide cash, seeds, tools, and basic commodities to allow families to get through the annual “hunger season” – the window between harvesting seasons. However, farmers must reimburse this credit at unfavorable prices and pay disproportionate credit charges over which they have little power or choice.
The Near East Foundation project is helping gum producers break free of debt bondage to gum merchants, and establishing a sustainable lending mechanism—controlled by local communities—that will provide ongoing support to gum producers into the future.
NEF’s work with Sudanese Gum Arabic Producer Associations employs a three-pronged strategy to improve the livelihoods of rural families: (1) build capacity of its farmer members by providing training in sustainable forest management to improve the efficiency of their harvesting techniques to increase their production and income; (2) facilitate microcredit lending (for the first time in some places) through local associations to expand farmer operations, and free gum producers from local lending practices that keep them in poverty; and (3) support community associations to develop sustainable natural resource management.
Thank you for your generous support, which is helping farmers break the cycle of poverty and debt bondage, and preserve forest resources to ensure a healthy planet for us all!
NEF trainings increase income among rural farmers, promote protection of gum arabic trees and expand forests
Over the past year, NEF has worked with over 400 farmers to provide training that is changing the way forest resources are harvested in Sudan's "gum belt," and preserving an important source of revenue for people in impoverished rural areas of the country.
One such farmer is Mahdi Abu Alhassan Ibrahim. For many of his 58 years, he has farmed gum arabic in Alodiat Alshargia, a village in the Um Ruwaba locality of Sudan’s North Kordofan State. Until recently, Mahdi Abu had never received formal training in gum arabic production. Instead, he used traditional harvesting techniques, which often damage Sudan's gum forests and threaten the future livelihoods of many communities.
“I did not know how to protect gum arabic trees,” Mahdi Abu said. “The tools I used for tapping actually destroyed my trees. My family would cut trees for wood. I also stored my gum arabic in plastic bags—which changed its color, smell, and texture, lowering its price at market.” Over the past year, Mahdi Abu participated in the Near East Foundation’s Sustainable Gum Arabic Production project. He benefitted from trainings offered to the gum arabic producer association to which he belongs. The trainings provided him and hundreds of other farmers with new techniques and skills for harvesting and selling gum arabic. Mahdi Abu now uses improved tools for tapping which leave smaller cuts in his trees—preventing infestation by bugs and the early death of this valuable resource. He learned how to collect, clean, sort, dry, and store gum arabic seeds for future planting. By improving the way they harvest gum, Mahdi Abu and others are now collecting a higher price at market--which has increased income for families trying to earn a living wage throughout the "gum belt." The semi-arid Sahelian region of Sudan is highly vulnerable to drought, land degradation, and famine. The new skills and increased revenues resulting from NEF trainings are having a significant impact on families in the region. The project also encourages planting of new gum arabic trees, which provide an important barrier to the encroaching desert in places like Mahdi Abu’s village of Alodiat Alshargia. “With the support of the Near East Foundation, I have learned new ways to increase my income and improve my family’s well-being through gum arabic, agriculture, and micro-credit projects,” Mahdi Abu said. “We have also learned the value of gum arabic trees and the importance of protecting this resource.” We thank you for your generous support, which helps farmers like Mahdi Abu and preserves forest resources to ensure a healthy planet for us all!
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