The Acacia Development Project – A Biosylx Vision
Those familiar with Gum Acacia will know that it originates as a dried exudate from two Sahelian trees; Acacia senegal, producing the hard Hashab gum and Acacia seyal, producing the flaky Talha gum.
Gum Arabic is used in many different applications, primarily in the food and drinks industry, but also, in numerous non-food applications. Its many uses are contributed to a constant growth in demand by the global market as it has no effective substitutes with the same range of characteristics. It is often called the “Rolls Royce of Gums”.
In addition to producing gums, fodder and firewood, Acacia species ensure the maintenance of agricultural favourable conditions by acting as a buffer, resulting in the protection of crops against heavy rain and wind erosion, and the restoration of soil fertility.
Sadly however, all countries involved in Acacia operations have experienced significant climate change, impacting all production systems. This has led to detrimental consequences in local economies, from nationwide level consequences all the way to household subsistence.
The Supply and Demand
Gum producing countries generally export two thirds of their international annual volume. Consequently, the supply chain directly affects the livelihoods of approximately fifteen million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Such a supply chain is highly dependent on environmental factors such as the amount of rainfall and the intensity of locust swarms in Sub-Saharan deserts. Other factors that have an impact include price incentives offered to producers. This can only be increased by planting new trees and creating stable financial incentives for producers.
Taking this into account, the supply chain of Gum Acacia can be quite complex starting with the farmer then trader to exporter via a complex network of tribal leaders, traders and international companies.
These large companies are known for processing the majority of the market share in Gum Acacia, standing to gain the biggest portion of the food chain whilst export agents earn a small fraction, leaving the producers and farmers with very little income potential.
We believe that this status quo can be adapted. Better regulation and a fairer remuneration potential can be introduced through a system that can absorb supply and price fluctuations.
The Acacia Development Project’s main objective is to launch a system that will increase transparency, stabilize supply and reduce price volatility beneficial to both suppliers and buyers alike.
It also wishes to promote the use of Acacia Gum in the industry and enable more intensified research & development on Gum Acacia. Most importantly, it seeks to promote the development of Acacia plantations and the fair exploitation of existing forests, in addition to improving soil degradation control in gum producing countries.
We hope that as a positive outcome, this project will support food security and contribute towards poverty alleviation. The project will focus particularly on the poorest and most vulnerable groups of rural society: women and children, most often assigned to the harvesting and processing of gums and resins.