, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 211-218

A traditional agroforestry system under threat: an analysis of the gum arabic market and cultivation in the Sudan

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Abstract

The main aim of this study is to review the environmental and socioeconomic sustainability of the gum arabic farming system in central Sudan. A further aim is to analyse some of the main factors influencing production in recent decades in order to understand the future trade potential and consequently the smallholder livelihood. The study shows that end-user imports of gum arabic have increased during recent decades. Gum arabic is mainly for uses such as soft drinks, confectionary, and pharmaceuticals. However, even with this increased demand the production in Sudan, the main country of production, is declining. The producers, mainly smallholders, suffer from fluctuating prices. If the gum arabic farming system should be able to provide the environmental benefits of improved soil fertility and the socioeconomic benefits of risk spreading and dry season income opportunities, the prices paid to smallholders must be stabilized at a fair level, otherwise a shift to other crops or practices might take place.