Gum Arabica, a natural previously ignored by locals in Karamoja region has become a source of livelihood for residents. Gum Arabica from hardened sap of acacia tree grows wildly in almost all bushes of Karamoja.
Gum Arabica, a natural previously ignored by locals in Karamoja region has become a source of livelihood for residents. Gum Arabica from hardened sap of acacia tree grows wildly in almost all bushes of Karamoja. Gum Arabica is local known as Meskaor Char Gun.
A group of more than people composed mainly of women and teenagers leave their home early each morning to harvest the Gum Arabica which they sell to earn a living. Mary Achayo, a single mother of seven and resident of Katanga village in Moroto district says that she has been able to fend for her family using proceeds from the sale of Gum Arabica.
She says that together with her five children collect at least 15 KGs of Gum Arabica which they sale to the Private Sector Promotion Center at 1000 shillings a kilogram. Achayo says that she earns on average 350,000 shillings a month which enables her to pay school fees for her two daughters in boarding school at Moroto Municipal Boarding Primary and son at Kasimere Primary school, something she had never dreamt of achieving.
Achayo says she ventured into the business in 2009 after her husband was killed by cattle rustlers in October. Jennifer Ilukol, another member of the group says since she started the business in March 2010 she has been able to easily afford the school fees of her daughter who is now in S2 at Kangole Senior Secondary school in Napak district.
She collects a minimum of 3-5 kilos a day. Jimmy .A. Lomakol, the Chief Executive Officer of Karamoja Private Sector Development Center, the only buyer of gum Arabica in Karamoja region says the demand for the gum is high in Mombasa. He says the price per tone is about 3 million shillings. Lomakol explains that the gum has a variety of uses in several industries including food and beverages, printing, photography, textiles and pharmaceuticals.
He says that gum is processed to make soft drinks, syrups, glue, sweets, inks and paints among others. He says the acacia trees from which this gum is harvested are grown commercially in Senegal, Sudan and Somalia among other countries in Africa.