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Le projet majeur africain de la Grande Muraille Verte

Abdoulaye Dia
Robin Duponnois

Partie III. Réalisations

Experience of Acacia operation project: support to food security, poverty alleviation and soil degradation control in the gum and resins producers countries

Mamoum Gasim Musa

Texte intégral


1Acacia Operation is a regional project implemented in six Sahelian countries. In Sudan the project started in 2004 in two gum producing States namely (North Kordofan and Sinnar,). The project was funded by the Italian Government, implemented by Forests National Corporation with FAO as an executing agent. The project has been formulated with the specific objective of improving the livelihoods of the small-scale producers/collectors of gum Arabic in the Sudan. A number of different activities were conducted, ranging from rehabilitation of nurseries, extension services, village level plantations, improvement in quality of marketable Gum Arabic and improvement of social infrastructure for supporting the Gum Arabic producer’s communities.

2Acacia Senegal has a wide distribution in Sudan. It occurs in a belt between latitudes 10°-16° North covering an area of about one fifth of the total area of Sudan. Within this belt, gum is being mainly produced in two distinct areas namely western Sudan and eastern Sudan. The west comprises Kordofan and Darfur regions, while the east includes Blue Nile and Gedarif states.

3There are also socio-economic benefits from gum collection, which stretch beyond the simple cash value of the gum. Millions of people are involved in harvesting, cleaning and trading of the gum, and because it is an activity that is carried out during the dry season it does not put demands on the farmer when he needs to tend other crops. It, therefore, helps to make him and his family attached to the land and discourages him from migrating to urban areas in search of work.

4Environmentally, there are benefits which accrue from gum Arabic production. In particular, Acacia Senegal, the main gum Arabic producing species in the Sudan and the other gum-producing species that produce non-commercial quantities (Acacia seyal, A. polycantha, A. mellifera and A. laeta) provide a means of combating desertification and desert encroachment

Project Objectives


5To promote gum production and productivity, rehabilitate traditional gum cultivation cycle and strengthen newly organized gum producing associations and locally displaced communities with the view of alleviating poverty, combating desertification and enhancing food security.


  • Identify and disseminate the most promising rehabilitation approaches under different ecological and socio-economic conditions

  • –To establish nurseries, promote organic farming and restore traditional gum cultivation cycle.

  • To encourage re-settlement of locally displaced communities through replanting & restocking of degraded areas with gum-producing trees.

  • To improve back-yard gardens for production of rain-fed vegetables, sustain women farming and diversify food supply.

  • To promote and enhance marketing systems to secure increased benefits and better returns for gum producers

  • To build organizational, management and administrative capacities of Gum Producers Association and Internally Displaced People in the areas of book keeping, finance and administration;

Benefits and beneficiaries

6The major beneficiaries of this project are the small-scale producers of gum Arabic and their Associations into which they are grouped.

  • The Associations benefited from the plantations of Acacia senegal which after 5years can yield a considerable amount gum Arabic.

  • Cultivation of agricultural crops and fodder are of significant impact in terms of food security, income generation and livelihood improvement.

  • The population located in or around the targeted villages also benefited indirectly from services as well as indirectly improving their welfare through the increased production of vegetables.

  • Producers benefit directly from (i) the supply of seedlings from the rehabilitated nurseries (ii) the training they received in the field of using of improved tools for the tapping, collection and maintenance of their trees.

7Moreover, In Sudan, many of the areas where the project was implemented are suffering from desertification. The soils may be sandy with very poor structure highly vulnerable to erosion. The desertification process is due not only to climatic factors, but also to the presence of animals in numbers exceeding the carrying capacity of the land. In short spaces of time, large areas of land have been subjected to rapid desertification with the result that all the land could support is an itinerant agriculture or livestock economy and the exploitation of the gum trees. In this context, the project contributed effectively in improvement of the soil and combating desertification in targeted areas. Finally, Acacia Senegal is an important source of fodder for cattle, sheep and goats from its leaves and pods, and of wood and charcoal for the population, in addition to the revenue derived from its gum.

Project achievements


8The number of beneficiaries was 1310 in 2004, raised up to 3810 in 2005, and in 2006 jumped up to 7010.

Training of trainers


9Survival rate = 70%


Photo 1

Photo 1

Taungya system 2004 (N. Kordofan)

Photo 2

Photo 2

Taungya 2004 (N. Kordofan)

Photo 3

Photo 3

Plantation 2004 (Sennar)




  • The total planted area during this season was equivalent to 78.5% form the targeted area.

  • The survival rate was high due to sufficient rainfall and early land preparation (water harvesting techniques).


Water Harvesting Technique

  • When the first year planting programme (executed by traditional methods) was evaluated, it was decided that both traditional and water harvesting techniques should be adopted especially in Kordofan on poor sandy soils.

  • On the arrival of the dolphin plough the mechanized water harvesting technology was used and the traditional methods were also adopted on terrain unsuitable for that machine. It must be mentioned here that the Sudan had acquired excellent experience from previously executing water harvesting programmes. Experience showed that the method adopted (mechanized or traditional) should be selected according to the suitability of that method to the site factors.

Photo 4

Photo 4

Land preparation 2005 (Sennar))

Photo 5

Photo 5

Taungya 2005 (N. Kordofan)

Lessons learnt

  • Growing agricultural crops in association with Gum Arabic plantation, especially at early stage of plantation, would have opened an opportunity to make the participatory forest management concept more rewarding.

  • Beneficiaries and different stakeholders had improved their knowledge in various aspects.

  • Willingness and interest of local people is very important for the success of all forestry and livelihood improvement programmes so an efficient forestry extension program (awareness and capacity building) is crucial.

  • Involvement of different stakeholders in the afforestation and improvement of production through agro-silvo-pastoral technique is essential for the success

  • Well trained staff in forestry technical issues and rural development will enhance the work progress

  • Using of water harvesting techniques seem to be essential in rehabilitation of degraded land in semi arid area

  • Physical characteristic of the soil and landscape should have been considered in planning suitable water harvesting techniques

  • High and outstanding success was with landless people in reserved forests and women were found do better than men.

  • Taking forest committees on study tours to other successful models was found to be a very effective demonstrating tool.


  • The income level of the project beneficiaries was changed remarkably, due to higher benefits received from introduced Agro-silvo-pastoral system.

  • The most outstanding output of the participatory forest management is the appearance of Acacia Senegal (Hashab) the gum producing tree in project areas that were not previously occupied by the species during the last two decades.

  • These plantations will secure a very important source of income, as the research studies estimated that the gum production revenue of 20 feddans is about US $ 5,000.


10Acacia Operation plays a significant role in supporting the livelihoods of the poor in project site. When resources are degraded, contested, or inaccessible, the poor tend to be negatively affected, often driven even deeper into poverty. Recently attention is being paid to the role of forestry in poverty context, and this has been addressed in the forest policy and national strategies for poverty alleviation.


  • Forests and trees provide a wide range of socio-economic and environmental benefits and values to the people in the region. This inevitably results in a wide range of often competing demands, needs and interests being placed on the same resources resulting in conflicts. The conflicts occur at different levels ranging from household to local and national level. Establishing conflict resolution mechanisms among users, within agencies, and between local groups is highly required.

  • Newly established Hashab plantations are subjected to overgrazing during the drought period. Training on the importance of sustainability and conservation of natural resources is highly needed to complement the technical assistance provided to farmers.

  • Participation of women in the implementation of different project components is very minor, compared to the role of women towards improving food security in the rural area. In this regard it is essential to promote their participation in the social and economic life of their communities by empowering them to initiate and conduct an income generating activities in fields of agriculture and forestry.

  • The project is mainly targeting the Gum Arabic Producers’ Associations (GAPAs). These Associations are recently formed by small-scale producers -typically owning few Hashab trees to a maximum of 30 feddans -of a same community. Around 2651 associations have been registered so far; they have an apex structure in Khartoum: the Gum Arabic Producers’ Union. There is a need to improve the capacity of GAPA’s through improving business organizational, marketing skills, administrative capacity and giving them access to finance services with reasonable credit charges -as an alternative to the traditional Sheil system.

Some Means and Ways for Community Involvement

  • For successful working with the community from the initial stage, extension agents should ensure that trust is built with local leaders and even with prominent people in the community who may otherwise turn the community against the innovation.

  • To enable communities to run activities on their own and/or with minimum external support, relevant training should be provided for the effectiveness of the project.

  • Needs assessment of community training should be carried out on a regular basis to identify and formulate the extension package.

  • Community forest extension is of dynamic feature, and therefore the level of achievements should not be based only on achieving prescribed plans, but also on community needs, organizational capacities and level of understanding.

Table des illustrations

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Titre Photo 1
Légende Taungya system 2004 (N. Kordofan)
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Titre Photo 2
Légende Taungya 2004 (N. Kordofan)
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Titre Photo 3
Légende Plantation 2004 (Sennar)
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Titre Photo 4
Légende Land preparation 2005 (Sennar))
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Titre Photo 5
Légende Taungya 2005 (N. Kordofan)
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Forests National Corporation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest SUDAN

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