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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Expert: Ethiopia's Gum Resource Rich, Underutilized

People's Daily Online -- Ethiopia is rich in natural gum and gum resin, which could earn the country significant amount of foreign currency, but the resource remains underutilized, a forest resource expert said Tuesday.

"Non-timber products of Ethiopia, including natural gum and gum resin, cover a wide range of multipurpose species and products. However, this resource could not be exploited fully and remain unutilized for various reasons related to ineffective management," said Mulugeta Lemenih, forest resource expert at Wondo Genet Forestry College.

Mulugeta told a forum that poor management and ill practices were playing negatively as far as the country's resource in gum and related products was concerned.

"The ever increasing frequency and intensity of fire and excessive fire wood harvesting, coupled with improper tapping practiced by the locals is seriously damaging the resource base," said the Ethiopian expert.

In addition to the improper tapping by gum collectors and careless wounding of the tree by herders, agricultural land expansions was worsening the situation, according to the expert.

Ethiopia is the biggest exporter of gum followed by Eritrea and Somalia and 90 percent of the world gum market is covered by the three countries, he said.

Apart from the lack of promotion, the major constraints that hinder growth of the gum and gum resin market in Ethiopia, according to Mulugeta, include absence of infrastructure, high production cost, poor quality control, uncontrolled trade, slow process of export transaction.

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