Khartoum, Sudan (May 11, 2012) — Participating gum arabic farmers increased their incomes by an average of 200 to 350 Sudanese Pounds, or as much as $130 per family, after implementing new harvesting techniques learned through a Near East Foundation (NEF) project to improve livelihoods.
In Sudan, approximately 6 million people—or 20 percent of the population—depend on the gum arabic sector as a source of income.
The recent, successful harvest in North Kordofan simultaneously improved income for small-scale farmers while expanding forest cover in the dry forest ecosystem where gum arabic is produced. The NEF project is strengthening the rural economy and building sustainability in the forest ecosystems upon which rural livelihoods depend.
Sudan is a leading global producer of gum arabic, exporting an average of 20,000 tons of gum annually with a value of $40 million. However, little profit from gum production reaches local producers. Inefficient harvesting techniques and unfavorable government policies that result in low producer prices have historically restrained income potential for small farmers.
The Near East Foundation works with Gum Arabic Producer Associations to break this cycle and improve livelihoods of rural families through a three-pronged strategy: (1) build capacity of its farmer members by providing training in sustainable forest management to improve the efficiency of their harvesting techniques to increase their production and income; (2) facilitate microcredit lending (for the first time in some places) through local associations to expand farmer operations, and free gum producers from local lending practices that keep them in poverty; and (3) support community associations to develop sustainable natural resource management.
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 http://www.neareast.org