The Acacia Development Project – A Biosylx Vision
Those who know Gum Acacia well, 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 a lot of different domains, namely the food and drinks industry, but also, in numerous non-food applications. This wide range of functions has contributed to a constant growth in demand by the global market, and 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 had detrimental consequences to the local economy, from nationwide level consequences, all the way to household subsistence.
The Supply and Demand
Supply and demand is tricky… Gum producing countries export two thirds of the international annual volume, making this supply chain directly affect the lives of 5 to 6 million people in Sub-Sahara Africa. This supply is highly dependent on environmental factors such as rain fall and locust in Sub-Sahara Deserts, as well as price incentives to producers. It can only be increased by planting new trees and creating stable financial incentives for producers.
That being said, gum goes from farmer to trader to exporter via a complex chain of tribal leaders, traders and international companies. These large companies are known to process the majority of the market share in gum and stand to gain the largest portion of the food chain, while export agents make a small fraction, leaving the producers and farmers with very little.
We believe that this status quo scenario can be fairer by the installation of a system which would otherwise be able to absorb supply and price fluctuations.
The Acacia Development Project’s main objective is to create a system that will increase transparency, stabilize supply, and reduce price volatility both beneficial to suppliers and buyers. It also wishes to promote the use of Acacia Gum in the industry, and allow intensified research & development on Gum Acacia. Most importantly however, it seeks to promote the development of Acacia plantations and the fair exploitation of existing forests, in addition to improving soil degradation control in the gum producer countries.
We hope that as a result, this project will support food security and contribute to poverty alleviation. The project will particularly focus on the poorest and most vulnerable groups of rural society: women and children, most often assigned to harvest and process gums and resins.