El Obeid, Sudan (April 2, 2013) — In recent months, NEF has expanded its work to restore acacia tree forests in Sudan and help 520 Sudanese farmers who harvest gum arabic from the trees.
Acacia trees are a vital source of income for families in Sudan. The trees also help to stabilize the soil and to prevent increasing desertification.
The farmers are receiving technical support and financial aid to plant new trees, improve their production, and increase their income. The increased income will allow farmers to better provide for their families, as well as re-invest in their businesses and struggling communities.
NEF is helping the 520 farmers by:
• Distributing seeds. While seeds are plentiful in places like the U.S., they are a precious commodity across much of Africa. NEF is stepping in to fill the supply gap by providing 150 tree seeds to each farmer.
• Providing training. NEF offers the farmers a full range of technical support, including how to determine the best locations to plant, instruction in more efficient harvesting techniques, and guidance in improved storage of the gum arabic (so it remains a high quality until it reaches the market).
• Offering follow-up support. NEF continues to offer technical support to the farmers on an ongoing basis.
The participating farmers are all members of Gum Arabic Producer Associations. These associations are comparable to farmer cooperatives in the U.S. – they’re a way for farmers to organize, support each other, and have a greater impact together than any one single farmer could on his/her own.
In the past two years, NEF has supported many of these associations in Sudan. Participants in a pilot project reported an average 25% increase in income, 100% re-payment of micro-credit loans, and 25% increase in micro-credit funds available to farmers. These improvements are significant in an area where 90% of people live on less than $1 dollar a day.
In this expansion, NEF is working with four new producer associations – so all of the 520 farmers are receiving supplies and training from NEF for the first time. NEF also continues to offer ongoing support to other farmers who we’ve worked with in the past.
NEF’s local partners are critical to the success of these efforts. They include the National Forestry Corporation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Wealth in North Kordofan.
Funding for this project was generously provided by the Flora Family Foundation.
The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF has helped build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and build “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.