KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Together with the Government of Sudan, the European Union (EU) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD), are launching a project that will increase the production and improve the quality of the Sudanese gum Arabic, by concentrating on improving the producers’ income and livelihoods.
According to the national coordinator of the project for supporting the structuring of the gum Arabic sector, Dr. Fayza Siddiq, the European Union has earmarked a grant of ten million euros for the project.
The grant targets the states of North Kordofan, the Blue Nile, Sinnar and Gedaref during 2021-2024.
The EU project aims at enhancing economic opportunities for youth and women in Sudan, and at strengthening the resilience of the gum Arabic belt. The project will be implemented by the Forests National Corporation (FNC) in close collaboration and follow up from the Ministry of Finance and the AFD.
A statement by the EU said "This project is based on a pilot project that AFD funded in 2013. The FNC was already the implementing partner at the time, and brought significant and sustainable results, due to the structuring of producers into associations. The collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the FNC will therefore be reiterated, and replicated in three other States thanks to this new EU financing. This will allow to consolidate the achievements of North Kordofan and innovate with a new component which aims to increase the resilience of the Gum Belt.
Sudan is the world’s largest producer and exporter of raw gum Arabic, with an annual production corresponding to 70% of the world’s raw exports, and one million poor households currently depend on revenue from its production.
Because they have a significant role in its value chain, gum Arabic provides economic opportunities that can lift women out of poverty and reinforce their role in their households and communities, the EU statement said. Furthermore, the gum Arabic value chain contributes to environmental integrity and supports biodiversity management as well as ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation, as the product is traditionally produced in sustainably-managed agroforestry systems in Sudan.
According to Ambassador Robert van den Dool, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Sudan: “the EU is honoured to work with the Agence Française de Développement, the Sudanese Ministry of Finance, the Forests National Corporation and the Farmers Association to contribute collectively to poverty reduction and environment conservation through the strengthening of the gum Arabic value chain.”
The European diplomat adds that "the new project will improve the agricultural practices and the quality of the Sudanese exported gum. This will consecutively generate recovery and revival to the Sudanese agricultural sector, create more jobs for youth and bring much needed hard currency to the Sudanese economy.”
For Ms. Gaëlle Balineau, AFD Sudan country manager, “the agricultural sector, in general and gum Arabic in particular, is a privileged area where Sudan and France have established a strong and multifaceted relationship. France is the main importer of Sudanese Gum Arabic, but wishes to go further and help the country develop its production and value added. The cooperation between AFD and the National Forest Corporation has been intense during eight years now, which will be of a great help to implement this project. In addition to addressing an essential sector that is a driving force for job creation in Sudan, this project also aims to facilitate adaptation to climate change, while limiting the increase in poverty in a context of economic challenges.”
Gum Arabic is an emulsion obtained from the stems and branches of the acacia seyal and acacia senegal trees when parts of the bark are carefully sliced away to let liquid gum to flow down on the sides. Then the gum is left to dry up on the tree before it is picked. If kept carefully, the gum can stay unaffected for decades.
Gum contains the polysaccharide substance which is a complex of nutritional carbohydrates and pharmaceutical components.
Sudan’s gum Arabic is mostly obtained from the local hasshab (acacia senegal) trees of the Savannah and semi-Savannah zones of Western and Central Sudan.
Gum Arabic producing trees grow all through the African desert across Senegal, Mali and Nigeria in the West down to Sudan, Ethiopia and North Kenya in the East.
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