Authorities in Northern Upper Nile have appealed to the business community to buy cash crops from local farmers in the state.
The state minister of information, Santino Mal, told Eye Radio that the state has huge stocks of the Gum Arabic, but cannot access the international market due to lack of trade treaties and underinvestment in the sector.
According to Mal, farmers there harvest an estimated 50,000 tons of the gum annually, but it is smuggled into Sudan where it is packaged and branded as a Sudanese product.
“When they take Gum Arabic illegally, they export it as Sudanese product which is affecting our economy because Sudan takes the credit as its cash crop,” Mal stated.
Traders of gum Arabic in South Sudan have often called for increased public and private investment in the sector hoping it would help in the economic recovery after years of conflict.
Sudan is Africa’s leading exporter of the gum Arabic used in the manufacture of soft drinks, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
According to data from Sudan’s Gum Arabic Council, the country earned $109 million from gum Arabic exports last year.
But Mal says South Sudan has the potential to overtake its northern neighbor because the country has huge amounts of the acacia Senegal, a tree species producing quality gum.
According to the chairperson of the Farmers Union in Northern Upper Nile State, more than 8,000,000 kilograms of cash crops such as Gum Arabic and Sesame were smuggled into Sudan in 2019.
Large quantities of the gum Arabic trees are also found in the central, western and northern parts of South Sudan.
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