Sudanese farmers have been tapping acacia trees for decades, with one reward in mind: to harvest the prized “gum arabic” resin. Gum arabic is a natural gum originally consisting of the hardened sap of two species of the Acacia tree. It is used in everything from soft drinks to chewing gum and pharmaceuticals.
KHARTOUM JANUARY 23: Sudanese farmers have been tapping thorny acacia trees for decades, with one reward in mind: to harvest the prized “gum arabic” resin. These golden beads are near irreplaceable in the global industry, used in everything from soft drinks to chewing gum and pharmaceuticals. But in the harsh drylands where farmers struggle to cope with the arid climate, many are reluctant to take up the arduous profession, considered unrewarding, especially by the youth.
Gum arabic, also known as gum sudani, acacia gum, Arabic gum, gum acacia, acacia, Senegal gum, Indian gum, and by other names, is a natural gum originally consisting of the hardened sap of two species of the Acacia tree, Senegalia senegal and Vachellia seyal. The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees, mostly in Sudan (80%) and throughout the Sahel, from Senegal to Somalia.
Sudan is the world’s main producer and exporter of gum arabic, according to the United Nations’s food and agricultural organisation – it accounts for nearly 15 percent of Sudan’s income.
Gum arabic possesses a broad range of health benefits that have been evidently proved through several in vitro and in vivo studies. Gum arabic is not degraded in the stomach but fermented in the large intestine into a number of short chain fatty acids. It is regarded as a prebiotic that enhances the growth and proliferation of the beneficial intestinal microbiota and therefore its intake is associated with many useful health effects.
Featured Image: Tarig A. Eltom