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Published: 18th January 2011
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As the world continues to grapple climate change and its effect on the socio-economic life of ordinary people, Nigeria is presented with a great opportunity to exploit the twin benefit of fighting desert encroachment and increasing the earning power of her citizens through massive investment in the cultivation of gum Arabic.

Gum arabic is a leguminous tree species that is well adapted to sudan and sahelian agro-ecology of Africa and it produces a natural gum made of hardened sap mostly taken from three species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal (Grade 1), Acacia seyal(Grade 2) and Combretum though the major Acacia utilized for commercial Gum Arabic production in Nigeria are Acacia Senegal and Acacia seyal.

Nigeria currently produces about 20,000 MT of gum Arabic annually ranking second in the world with Sudan as the leading producer and Chad after Nigeria as the third largest producer of the product whose world production as been estimated at 70,000 MT annually. From available data Africa produces about 98% of the world requirement of gum Arabic.

Gum Arabic is used as thickener, suspender, emulsifier, stabilizer, flavour carrier, binder and encapsulating material. In addition, it is used in confectionaries, food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and chemical industries.

Some of the producing states in Nigeria includes Adamawa,Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Nasarawa ,Niger and Zamfara. Though Borno and Yobe states are the major producers in Nigeria

Much as been said and written on the investment opportunity available in the trading of raw gum Arabic but the essence of this artic le is to stress the need for the processing of the product into refined Gum Arabic powder and the cultivation of the plant for the conservation of the environment. The processing technique is quite simple; it involves the sorting, crushing, dispersion in water, purification, precipitation and separation.

Most of the nations gum Arabic are harvested from trees mostly found in the wild and though it take an average of about five (5) before the tree would be matured for tapping , investment in large scale acacia tree plantation would not only provide the investor with an organized way of sourcing for the raw material for the processing plant but would also help to combat environmental degradation in the form of desert encroachment.

It is a generally believe that Nigeria is not fully taking advantage of the large land available for the cultivation of the product, having little from the producing trees and at such, our production of about 20,000 MT annually is low compared to our potential.Perhap the most neglected area is in the area of processing, most of the product are harvested and sold as a raw instead of adding value to the product before selling. The country earned US$88.08 million in 2004 through the export of the raw form of the product whereas the country stands to gain US$5.00 for every one kilogramme of processed Gum Arabic. At the moment much of Nigeria, gum requirement is sourced from abroad and probably from

The machinery and equipment required for production can be sourced locally or imported from abroad. Other requirement to consider apart from the cost of the machinery is the cost of accommodation, operating cost and project vehicle.

A number of incentives have been put together to encourage investment in agriculture. These include;

o Finance Credit
o Tax Holdings
o Reduced Customs Charges on Imported Inputs
o Technical Support through Research Institutions
o Export Financing and Guarantee
o Agricultural Insurance Scheme
o Extension Services

Should you require a market report/feasibility study on the above subject matter, please do contact the writer.

Anaekwe Everistus Nnamdi is a Business Development Consultant by day and blogs on investment opportunities in Nigeria by Night. He is the administrator of ,a forum focused on business in Nigeria.

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