(Shadia Basheri) - Gum Arabic is considered one of the most important cash crops of Sudan that have great comparative advantages
. These advantages can be transferred into competitive ones through processing and increasing the scope of its uses as well as exporting the crop to the countries of the world.
The production and marketing of gum Arabic crop in Sudan has made big strides as part of the current economic policies adopted in the country to increase the non petroleum exports of the country, of which the crop assumes top priority. It is hoped that these economic policies will enable the Sudan to maintain its pioneering place as exporter of the strategic and important gum Arabic crop, despite the obstacles that had faced it in the recent periods that led to low production.
The Central Bank of Sudan has set up a 17.5 million fund with the participation of eight banks in a view to increasing the exports of forestry products (gum Arabic) and expanding the financial resources directed to boost the export commodities with the aim of increasing its revenues of foreign exchange.
In this regard, the National Agency for Insurance and Financing of Exports organized at the Grand Villa Hotel here last Tuesday a workshop on “the future vision for development of gum Arabic exports”, in collaboration with the Farmer’s Commercial Bank and under the auspices of the Central Bank OF Sudan. The workshop came out with a number of recommendations to enhance the exports of the strategic crop, including the revival of the Gum Arabic Company. The workshop also recommended that the state shall undertake issuance of policies according to which it determines the internal and external prices of the crop according to area studies, supporting producers through providing the necessary facilities for production increase and marketing, and combating smuggling. Other recommendations included reduction of fees on gum Arabic producers, increasing the production and productivity provision of financing facilities to the producers as well as holding of capacity building workshops for the exporters and bank employees responsible or investment.
Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan Mohamed Ahmed Al Bushra, speaking at the workshop, announced that last year, 2015, witnessed export of 90,000 tons of gum Arabic, generating revenues amounting to 113 million dollars, adding that a quantity of 150,000 tons is targeted for this year with an expected revenues of 200 million dollars.
He said that despite that the said figures were below aspirations, but the workshop was held in a suitable time when the national economy is witnessing great reforms and as the objectives of the five-year program are being implemented, pointing out that the financing funds for gum Arabic crop have realized big successes in their performance as regards the volume of funding and revenues. He noted that this year is expected to witness financing of 150,000 tons of gum Arabic exports. Al Bushra also noted that the volume of current funding covers only 20% of the available potentials, saying that the challenge now is to boost the efforts which aim at increasing production using the available resources and by adopting policies that lead to utilization of the natural resources of the country.
The General Director of the National Agency for Insurance and Financing of Exports, Salahuddin Shiekh Fadul, on his part, affirmed that the workshop has been held as part of the endeavors currently taking place in the economic arena, which aim at increasing the foreign exchange revenues of the state through promotion of exports.
He stressed the importance of the gum Arabic commodity, saying that it is considered as an inexhaustible product as it also creates big employment opportunities that serves the efforts for poverty alleviation.
The representative of the Farmers Commercial Bank, Al Rasheed Alfil, addressing the workshop, announced that the bank has implemented five financing fund for gum Arabic crop exports, noting that the total volume of financing in the four funds that have already been accomplished amounted to 273 million pounds, while the total quantities of exports stood at 27700 tons of gum Arabic, generating a total of 53.4 million dollars with an average of 13.4 million dollars annually or 10% of the total exports in the year. He added that the bank is currently working to cope with the rising demand for gum Arabic in the international market through making available the necessary funding to increase the cultivated areas and enhancing its productivity as well as encouraging the local processing of the gum Arabic crop.