Sudan war hurts gum arabic business

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Farmers of gum arabic, a crucial component for international industry, including fizzy drinks, have been left without local customers as a result of the war in Sudan, but a trade group assures that there are currently enough supplies worldwide.

The chewing gum, soft drinks, and pharmaceutical industries all use the emulsifying properties of the golden blobs of resin harvested from prickly acacia trees.



The majority of the raw gum produced worldwide is produced in Sudan, which provides the country in northeast Africa with a significant amount of foreign exchange.

The industry has endured numerous wars, a warming world, and years of sanctions.

However, since a conflict between two generals broke out on April 15, “producers are grappling with disaster,” a gum arabic trader in El Obeid, the capital of the North Kordofan state 350 kilometers (220 miles) southwest of Khartoum, told AFP.

One of the major regional markets for Sudanese gum arabic growers is the city.

Due to fuel shortages preventing transportation to markets and rising prices, other agricultural sectors are also dealing with a wartime shortage of consumers.

However, the war’s impact on gum arabic is particularly significant given its significance to Sudan’s economy and the five million Sudanese that the industry supported.

“Nobody is buying,”

Around 1,000 people have died, more than a million people have been forced to leave their homes as a result of fighting between army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, further crippling an already fragile economy.

The western region of Darfur and the capital city of Khartoum, parts of which have been reduced to smoldering rubble, have seen the majority of the fighting.

El Obeid has reportedly seen fighting, according to witnesses.

The Gedaref region and its acacia trees have been spared the fighting farther east, closer to the Ethiopian border, but gum arabic farmers are still impacted.

According to the trader, Adam Issa Mohammed, “We have large quantities we need to sell, but no one is buying because exporters and distributors can’t find any transport companies willing to risk their trucks.”

Ahmed Mohammed Hussein, a producer of gum arabic, claimed that the lack of consumers has caused a price collapse of about 60%.

According to Hussein, the cost of a tonne has decreased from 320,000 Sudanese pounds ($627 to $233).

Everything must pass through Khartoum’s war zone, including customs and cargo processing, so the risk is obvious.

When truckers travel by car, they not only run the risk of dying but also have to spend a lot of time looking for gas. Even if they do find it, the cost per liter has increased by 20 times since the war.

Read Also: What to know as Sudan war enters its first month


However, at the ports, the Sudanese port authority reported to AFP that “imports and exports are operating normally.”

However, Othman Abdelsalam, a worker at a shipping firm in Sudan who has seen the data, claimed that the numbers are declining.

He told AFP that since the war began, “exports from Darfur and Kordofan via Khartoum — particularly gum arabic — have suffered a strong impact.”

The gum arabic belt of Sudan stretches from Gedaref, through Kordofan, and to Darfur in the west.

There is currently no supply threat to the industry’s users of gum arabic, according to the Hamburg-based Association for International Promotion of Gums, which brings together importers, processors, and producers.

According to a statement from the organization, “Member companies maintain sufficient stocks of gum arabic imported from Sudan and other countries in their warehouses, so that potential interruptions in supply… can be absorbed.”

Chad and Nigeria were mentioned as additional producers, so the group concluded that “immediate supply bottlenecks are not to be expected because of the current events in Sudan.”

However, industry participants in Sudan or elsewhere were unable to estimate the lifespan of global stocks.

Global significance

According to pre-war data from AFD, the French agency for development, exports from Sudan accounted for 70% of the world’s raw gum supplies.


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