Economic Contribution of Gum and Resin Resources to Household Livelihoods in Selected Regions and the National Economy of Ethiopia

Mekonnen, Zenebe
Worku, Adefires
Yohannes, Temsgen
Bahru, Tinsae
Mebratu, Trehas
Teketay, Demel
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Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Ethiopia has one of the largest dry forest and woodland resource bases in the Horn of Africa, predominated by diverse Acacia, Boswellia, Commiphora, and Sterculia species, with an estimated annual production potential of over 300,000 tonnes of commercial gums and resins. However, until recently, less than 1% of this potential has been tapped and traded while the resource bases are degrading fast. Shortage of locality-specific case studies typifying the state of gum and resin production and marketing systems and nationwide socio-economic significance of the resources has delayed development of value-added commercialization of the commodities and integrated management of the resource bases. A study aimed at exploring the value chain of traded gums and resins and their contribution to rural livelihood and national economy was conducted in 11 purposively selected localities in five National Regional States within the major gum-belts in Ethiopia. Two major cities, central for product processing and marketing, were also assessed. A questionnaire survey was administered to 135 randomly selected households, and key stakeholder interviews, group discussions, and field observations were carried out following the value chain (from producers to exporters). Results showed that one or more of the seven gums and resins (frankincense, myrrh, opopanax, hagar, gum arabic, gum talha, and gum gumero) were produced and traded at the studied districts. While frankincense marketing dominated the northern part, gum arabic, myrrh, and opopanax are most popular in the south and southeastern part of the country. About 93% of the interviewed households engaged in collecting, marketing, or both activities. Gums and resins contributed up to 14% of the average annual cash income of the households. However, a significant difference (P < 0.001) was found in the amount collected and income generated per household and locality. Strong correlation was observed between cash income from gums and resins and off-farm activities (R = 0.74) and other types of non-timber forest products like honey (R = 0.72, α = 0.01). However, weak correlation was observed between incomes from gums and resins and crop and livestock production. Despite the observed inefficient value chain, the gum and resin resources have considerable contributions to the national economy. For instance, the annual average revenue from three districts in Tigray National Regional State was USD 882,000 in 2010. Between 2002 and 2010, about 2,306 tonnes of different gums and resins were traded and average revenue of USD 3,220,542 was obtained in one district in the same region. At the national level, between 1997 and 2010 about 6,174 tonnes of gum arabic and about 33,865 tonnes of other gums and resins were exported, and more than USD 72 million were generated. Responding to what sort of institutional arrangement governs the value chain and use of gums and resins resources at the present situations, about 41% of the respondents asserted customary and national legal arrangements, while 56% mentioned alternative systems as means of conflict resolution. Key policy and development interventions that could enhance the socio-economic importance of the gum and resin value chain at the local and national levels, while also increasing responsibility and commitment towards long-term management of the resource bases, have been recommended.
Mekonnen, Z., Worku, A., Yohannes, T., Bahru, T., Mebratu, T., Teketa, D. 2013. Economic Contribution of Gum and Resin Resources to Household Livelihoods in Selected Regions and the National Economy of Ethiopia. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 11: 273-288.
16 pages
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