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Gum Arabic season kicks off in Sudan

November 15 - 2020 SENNAR / EL OBEID
Farmer harvests gum Arabic (Afed Magazine)
Farmer harvests gum Arabic (Afed Magazine)

The State Forestry Administration in Sennar announced the start of the seasonal production of gum Arabic on Friday. Sudan is the world’s largest producer of gum Arabic.

The director of Sennar Forestry, Ali Sheikh, said on Friday that expected productivity this year could be as much as two quintals (100 kilograms) per feddan (approximately 1 acre) of Hashab and 3.4 quintals per feddan of Taleh. Sheikh said that there are 350 public and private forests in the state, covering 1,266,000 feddan in total.

“Sennar is characterized by its forests that are part of the gum Arabic belt,” he said, which extends from Sudan’s eastern borders with Ethiopia to the western borders with Chad and Central Africa, spanning an area of 500,000 square kilometres.

The material, a bonding agent and emulsifier crucial for soft drinks, is grown mainly in Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile states. Acacia seyal (Taleh) and the Acacia Senegal (Hashab) are tapped for gum by stripping bits off the bark, from which gum then exudes.

On November 8, the Institute of Gum Arabic Research and Desertification Studies at the University of Kordofan organised a workshop in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, on integration of women in gum Arabic crop production process.

All the gum Arabic produced in the country is exported. From the 1950’s to the early 1990’s, Sudanese gum accounted for 80 percent of the global gum trade. About 50,000 tons were produced per annum in the 1960s. In the following decade, Sudan’s gum exports began to decline. Since late 1980’s, Sudanese exports have been at an average of 25,000 tons.

Gum Arabic exports from Sudan grew from $33.1 million in 2009, when the government ended a state monopoly on the business, to $114.7 million in 2017, according to Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) statistics.

On September 23, Sudan and the Netherlands agreed to support and facilitate establishment of gum processing factories along the country's belt, in order to increase the value of the crop before it is exported.

*USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of posting. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary widely in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily US Dollar middle rate quoted by the CBoS

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