A new nature-based project to improve the quality and quantity of the gum arabic, locally known as “ng’iminae”, harvesting and collecting in Turkana was launched yesterday.

The project aims at enhancing livelihoods by creating a value chain that brings together stakeholders.

Speaking at the project launch workshop at Kefri Hall in Lodwar, Pauline Ngoli Pusiye – the Deputy Director for Natural Resources – said that community sensitisation and engagement was key to making the project successful. She was opening the workshop on behalf of the County Executive Committee Member (CEC) of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources.

“We [directorate] will be offering technical expertise, coordination and assistance as well as work closely with the Community Forest Associations in exploring the possibility of propagating and planting more acacia trees for future gum arabic collection,” she said.

She further added that the identification of partners would assist in resource mobilisation as “ng’iminae” had the potential of being high revenue earner for the county and communities.

The two-year AfriFi Challenge Fund Project, by Acacia EPZ and Self-Help Africa, is meant to increase employment and economic opportunities for communities in arid and semi-arid counties through unlocking their gum arabic potential.

The other stakeholders involved in the project include Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), MercyCorps and TUPADO.

“As partners let us share our challenges as we work together and offer each other technical assistance whenever its needed,” said Ms Pusiye.

The workshop saw 30 participants, collectors and traders of gum arabic, drawn from Turkana North, Turkana South and Loima Sub-counties.

“We would like this project to start soon especially when it comes to purchasing what we have collected so far,” said Alice Elim, one of the participants in the workshop.

She is a gum arabic collector from Kaikor, Turkana North Sub-county.

Other concerns raised by the participants included lack of storage facilities, inadequate trainings and price inconsistency.