Global Fear of Lack of Gum Strategic Stock for Companies

Sudan Events Opens Gum Arabic Dossier

Interviewed by Nahid Oshi

Gum Arabic is one of the important and indispensable products in the world, as it is used in the pharmaceutical and food industries. Sudan is one of the leading countries in the production of acacia and hashab gum, negatively affected by the current war.

Sudan Events opened the Gum Arabic dossier with Professor Tariq Al-Sheikh Mahmoud, former Secretary General of the Gum Arabic Council, researcher at the Gum Arabic Research Institute and Desertification Studies at the University of Kordufan, in the following interview.

Could you tell us about Sudan’s Gum Arabic production??

– As is known, the Gum Arabic sector is a leading sector in Sudan. It is a sector that has high comparative advantages and its products enjoy high competitiveness world-wide. Sudan is unique in the production of Gum Arabic, as it produces 70% to 80% of the global production of Gum Arabic, and the presence of the Gum Arabic tree in the belt provides a good environment for the production of food and cash crops: peanuts, sesame, hibiscus, and other products that have an impact on food security inside Sudan. They also constitute income-generating cash crops. The presence of the Gum Arabic tree also has a direct impact because the sector supports 80% of the livestock in Sudan. The belt also supports about 5 million people distributed in 13 states, including 5 states in Darfur, 3 states in Kordufan, White Nile, Blue Nile, Sinnar, Gadarif, and part of Kasala state, which constitute the Gum Arabic belt that produces hashab and taleh gum.

To what extent did the war that broke out in Sudan affect the sector?

– It is certain that the war taking place in Sudan now has directly affected eight of the states that produce Gum Arabic, namely (Kordufan: the three states and Darfur: the five states.) which in total produce more than 60% of the Gum Arabic production in the country. This means that 60% of the Gum Arabic has become outside the production system, and this is a direct effect of the war. Other states at the belt level outside Kordufan and Darfur significantly stumbled.

Does the war affect the states that produce Gum Arabic only?

Of course no, we find that 90% of the Gum Arabic factories that were located in Khartoum were negatively affected and became completely non-functional.

As for the export of Gum Arabic from major ports such as Port Sudan, we now find that the movement of ports for this commodity is not the same as before, and it faces technical and administrative problems. The quantities exported are small through this port, and prices have risen for most operations and transactions related to exports, affecting international trade, as between 50% to 60% of international trade is in Gum Arabic commodity and has now been affected. International agents and export firms chain has been interrupted and the global demand has become unclear within Sudan.

That means the impact has extended globally?

It is certain that the Gum Arabic commodity has been greatly affected and the issue has become clear at the level of major companies. There is a global fear of a shortage of companies’ strategic stock, which does not exceed 4/5 months and will run out. There will be a gap in Gum Arabic at the world level, which is a major and very important commodity for many products. Hence, the war has fatally affected this sector, and the greatest impact may appear in the coming days.

Also, funds for production of the commodity are not available because banks financing have become unavailable in most areas of the western Gum Arabic belt, and even the smart partnerships that some companies used to have with producers have become outside the scope of direct transactions.

Most of the Gum Arabic producers associations now do not have the capabilities to communicate in the production process as in the past, due to lack of institutional funding, the lack of sufficient security in the production areas, the faltering means of transportation, and the difficulty of living due to the cessation of corporate social responsibility programs that used to provide water to producers, in addition to the fact that well-known companies in the world are now heading to some other countries, such as Central Africa, Nigeria, and Chad. Therefore, one of the clear impacts of the war is the faltering of the export process and its flow from Sudan. Therefore, a large portion of the Gum Arabic product is smuggled across the borders to these countries due to the easy flow of items from those countries to the superpowers. The biggest fear is the loss of clients at the international level who have dealt with national Sudanese companies for decades, and the fear is that if a gap occurs at the international level, alternatives to Gum Arabic will become active.

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