Sustainable, Profitable Gum Arabic Production

Timeframe: 2010-Present
Donor: Flora Family Foundation

Through a new pilot project, NEF is helping farmers break the poverty cycle, conserve natural water and forest resources, and fight climate change in Sudan's "Gum Belt."

Since the project began in 2010, participating gum arabic producers in pilot communities experienced dramatic impacts:

  • Income increased by and avergage of 25 percent;
  • Woodland cover expanded by 50 percent through new community-based conservation initiatives;
  • Over $10,000 was loaned to 100+ beneficiaries with 100% re-payment;
  • Communities established seed banks and nurseries based on skills learned in trainings;
  • 417 gum arabic farmers and members of targeted communities were trained in forest management and sustainable harvesting techniques - 119 of those trained were women;
  • 4 pilot villages took steps to establish protected forest areas, in coordination with pastoralists; and
  • 257 hectares are now under improved natural resource management; 106 hectares of new land planted with Acacia trees.

For impoverished families, the project is improving their incomes and quality of life, bringing hope to rural areas of North Kordofan. 

Why gum arabic?

Gum arabic is the source of income for 1 in 5 Sudanese - about 6 million people.  Sudan exports roughly 50% of the world supply of this natural forest resource, used widely as a stabilizer in products ranging from soft drinks to pharmaceuticals.

Drought, desertification, civil war, and poverty are challenging Sudanese farmers and their ability to harvest gum arabic from the acacia trees that grow naturally in the region’s harsh climate.  Current harvesting techniques are inefficient, causing farmers to lose income in the short-term and threatening negative environmental impacts in the long-term.

Project Overview

Through this innovative project, NEF is helping gum arabic farmers overcome these obstacles to increase their incomes and become better natural resource managers.  To accomplish this we are providing training in:

  • Water capture and storage techniques;
  • More efficient tree harvesting;
  • Designing and implementing natural resource management plans; and
  • General strategies to counter the impacts of drought and climate change.

Training provides farmers with the knowledge to increase gum arabic production and promote long-term sustainability, while newly-established micro-financing systems help farmers and their families undertake projects that support both improved production and conservation.



In donating to the Near East Foundation, you support education, enterprise, and community empowerment in some of the Middle East and North Africa's most impoverished areas.

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