Gum Arabic is a leguminous tree species that is well adapted to Sudan and Sahalian agro-ecology of Africa. There are over 300 species in this family. Notable among them is Acacia Senegal because it produces grade 1 quality gum. Its distribution is localized in Africa.
The gum is obtained as dry exudates from the stem and branches of Acacia Senegal and/or Acacia seyal when the plant is injured.
The majority of Gum Arabic is produced from 17 African countries (14 of which were members of the NGARA network in 2007) in varying quantity and quality.
These countries include: Sudan, Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Eritrea, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Ghana.
There are over 1,100 Acacia species worldwide. However Acacia Senegal and Acacia Seyal are the most commercially exploited species.
Nigeria has three grades of Gum Arabic;
Acacia Senegal (grade 1)
Acacia Seyal (Grade 2) and
Combretum (Grade 3).
The major Acacia utilized for commercial Gum Arabic production in Nigeria are Acacia Senegal and Acacia seyal. Nigeria is the 2nd largest producer of the crop in the world after Sudan with average production of 20,000 metric tonnes of all grades of Gum Arabic.
In the year 2004, world production of Gum Arabic was put at 70,000 metric tonnes while Nigeria’s production amounted to 18,935 metric tonnes with export earnings of US$88.08 million.
Production of Gum Arabic covers 14 States of the Federation namely Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Niger with an estimated population of 4 million Nigerians engaged in its cultivation and trade.
The gum has a wide range of industrial uses especially, in areas of feed, textiles and pharmaceutical industries.
In food products, it serves as a stabilizer, emulsifier, and binding agent for chewing gums, ice creams and jams. In pharmaceuticals, the gum is a binder in iozenges, tablets, pills, throat pastilles and cough drops. In textile industry it is used for fabric stiffening and as a binder for textile printing gums; it is also used in the plastic industry.
In miscellaneous industries it is used in producing ink, water colours, paints, carbon papers, pottery glaces etc.
However, the main use of gum arabic remains in confectionery, hard gums, soft gum and gum pastilles.
This report seeks to examine the financial viability or otherwise of establishing Gum Arabic processing plant in Nigeria which involves the sourcing of low grade Gum Arabic and processed into spray dried powder food grade gum arabic (impurity 99% up).
The production capacity of the proposed business is 1.2 tons per day of three (3) shifts of eight (8) hours each working at 80% of the installed capacity producing twenty four (24) tons of grade 1 (Hashab) and grade 2 (Talha) Spray Dried Food Grade Gum Arabic Powder (impurity 99% up) respectively.