What do soft drinks, cake mixes, mascara, fireworks, and watercolor paints have in common? It is likely they all use gum arabic – an effective stabilizer harvested from the Acacia Senegal tree. This natural substance has been collected from acacia trees since antiquity.
Sudan is one of the top producers of gum arabic in the world, and the production of this commodity is booming. Smallholder farmers, however, often lack the skills and knowledge to fully benefit from this trade. The Near East Foundation’s project in Sudan’s North Kordofan State has had considerable impact on gum arabic production and continues to expand to help more farmers better provide for their families and invest in their communities.
This year saw a significant increase in gum arabic production, as a result both of heavy rains last year and improved techniques by farmers. The project has helped farmers establish protected areas for Acacia Senegal trees. As livestock is now kept out of these forests, the trees are able to grow fully – and farmers are able to harvest more gum.
The Near East Foundation is continuing to work with farmers to increase production even further. Over the past months, NEF has facilitated the distribution of seeds to 225 farmers in North Kordofan. Each farmer received 1 pound of seeds—enough to cultivate 9 acres of land. Acacia seedlings will be distributed at the end of July, at the height of the rainy season.
NEF is also providing a training to the Gum Arabic Producers Union in Umruwaba Locality in North Kordofan to support members in organizing, advocating for policy changes, marketing, and in managing the environment. This institutional strengthening support was requested by the local union. Over twenty union leaders (both male and female) have improved skills in leadership, gum production, and marketing – and will lead their communities to improved production and sales of gum arabic.
Your support to vulnerable gum arabic farmers in North Kordofan-and the institutions that support them--helps to promote sustainable livelihoods in Sudan. Thank you!