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Gum Arabic in the Sudan; Endless conflicts



Gum Arabic is produced from stems or branches of acacia. Sudan is the greater producer of Gum Arabic; where it is flourished in the 20thcentury.In 1969, the

government established a public shareholding company which engaged to offer basic community services: health, drinking water to producerand support efforts of rehabilitation, research and development. Due to its chemical components, Gum Arabic plays a big role in processing of desserts, jams, crackers beverages, food, medicines, cosmetics, inks as well as nuclear reactors.

The private sector also plays a significant role; especially the project of Ghadambleya village resulted according to recommendations of Rio De Janeiro Earth Summit.  

Production of GA which based on traditional equipments that lead to bad quality and trees damage varies according to GA tree, its height, season of tapping temperature, bad storage and other diversified factors. 

Regarding costs and revenues, theyvary according to place, type of gum and finance. The international market conditions determine the selling price. Locally, farmers never get more than 8% to 10% of the real production cost.

The defiance confronting the private sector refers to: long gestation period, the Sudanese National Forest Corporation (1992-1995) has not encouraged the entry of investors in this domain as well as desert creeping.

In 1993,  a contract has been signed between Sydney Consulting Group and the authority of Mechanized Farming Corporation in Gedaref to plant forests  in 10%  of rain fed farms in this area i.e. (400,000) acres. Now, thirty-four million of Acacia trees were planted. 

The competition and conflicts began since the first penetration of the monopoly of the mechanically produced GA powder by Hashab International Company. The international monopoly of GA trade is clear. So appeared the (International Association for the Promotion of Gums) AIPG. Stakeholders in Europe spread rumors that locally produced powder is often contaminated with impurity and microorganisms. Despite all this competition, local processing advances and found its way to international market.

Many factors affected exports revenues: internal monopoly and exclusive concession given to the GAC, external monopoly (AIPG), absence of a proper marketing policy in the monopoly company, the hegemony of governmental institutions, unstable vision and unclear plans of cooperation with banking sector in financing GA, and finally, availability of industrial substitutes of GA.

The author recommended some points: concerning production, the NFC has to deploy more efforts to extend forest area in Sudan; government should maintain an updated register of areas and number of GA producing Acacias, as well as mobilizing involvement of individuals, cooperatives and private sector investors to collaborate with the forestrysector.

Regarding processing, state must establish a fund for developing local processing for GA everyday use. The Sudanese Metrology Authority and the Ministry of Industry should determine machinery types and the size of factories processing GA and follow-up their quality measures.

Concerning GA marketing, it needs comprehension of its nature and its minimum requirements of international standard specifications and purity from contamination and microbes, government must not interfere in the nomination of GAC senior executives, banking sector should be oriented to finance GA production and a Sudanese company has to be established in one of the European countries to assure the continuous flow of GA at appropriate time and price. Internally, the author recommends the cancellation of annual bottom ceiling price. In cooperation with the SSMO, centers of research, tests and examination should be established.

Between ups and downs Sudan remains, through history, on the top of producers and exporters of Gum Arabic.





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