The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, says the Federal Government will continue to encourage the production of improved seedlings for growth of the Gum Arabic.
Shehuri said this at the stakeholder’s forum and review of the Gum Arabic transformational road map meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
He also said the federal government would also fund its research and development, conduct safety needs assessment of the gum Arabic as well as support farmers.
The theme of the stakeholder’s forum is “Gum Arabic Development Strategy and Sustainability Plan 2021- 2030”
The minister said that the gum was obtained as dry exudates from the stem and branches of acacia Senegal or acacia Sahel when the plant is injured.
Shehuri said Gum Arabic is a unique multi-functional food addictive used to enhance flavour in confectionery products as well as emulsifier, stabiliser and clouding agent in beer and soft drinks.
He said the gum in Pharmaceutical industries is used as a stabiliser for emulsions and as binder and coating for tablets.
The minister said the gum is used in cosmetics as adhesive or facial masks and powder to give smooth feel to lotions, textile, paint and lithographic industries.
“The production of Gum Arabic plantations have the potentials to act as shelter belt, thereby reducing the problems of desert encroachment, environmental degradation and poor soil nutrition, particularly in the Sudan- Sahellian ecological zones which are around the North Eastern and North Western parts of Nigeria.
He noted that the the production of gum Arabic is on a decline mainly due to insurgency in its area of production.
“As at today, Nigeria is the 5th world producer instead of the 2nd largest producer, which it was previously, after Sudan.
” The population of the now top four producers, is less than half of the population of Nigeria and the available land area of all four is about 60 per cent of Nigeria, so why is Nigeria leading from behind?
“Nigeria exports over 95 per cent of its Gum Arabic in raw form to Europe, Asia and United States of America, only 5 per cent is utilised locally. Not processing this commodity locally is causing Nigeria huge losses in form of revenue and employment opportunities,” he said.
Shehuri said increasing Nigeria Gum Arabic production from its current status of about 23,040 metric tons by 20 per cent would create about 500,000 new jobs estimated at 43 million US dollars.
Speaking at the event, Eze Chidume Okoro, of Amano Obolia Ancient Kingdom, Ahiaza Mbaise Local Government in Imo, said the plan was to restore the glory of the Gum Arabic sector in the country.
Okoro, who is also the National President of Gum Arabic Producers, Processors and Exporters of Nigeria (NAGAPPEN), called on the ministry of Agriculture to seek the collaboration of Ministries and National Agencies working in gum Arabic sector to ensure a coordinated development of the sector. (NAN)