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The Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa (NGARA) is a regional network helping African countries formulate strategies for sustainable development of gums, resins and allied dryland resources for improving livelihoods of local communities and economies of member countries while ensuring that the environment is conserved. NGARA collaborates with various organizations to achieve its objectives including FAO Somali.
In 2008/2009 NGARA and (Food and Agriculture Organization) FAO through its program in Hargeisa, Somaliland collaborated and successfully implemented a project entitled “Community Based Local Economic Development of Somaliland and Puntland” whose objective was to enhance commercial production of aromatic resins (frankincense, myrhh and opopanax), commercial gums (gum arabic) and allied woodland resources among selected communities in Somaliland for sustainable economic growth and diversification of the country leading to creation of new jobs and livelihood opportunities. The project was piloted in the district of Caynabo and its environs within the Togedheer Region.
NGARA made several missions to Somaliland to undertake the following activities;
a) Appraisal and inventory of gum and resin producing species and stakeholder analysis,
b) Mapping and development of management plans focusing on the potential of myrrh (Malmal) to improve livelihoods
c) Establishment and Capacity Building of Saraar Malmal Group
After the project was successfully completed NGARA continued to use its regional and international links to look for suitable markets for aromatic resins, myrrh/oppoponax and commercial gums to strengthen trade and marketing.
Consequently based on NGARAs experiences in gums and resins in the region, Mr. Martinho Rocha, from Brazil and representing MILAGROS (www.milagros.com.br), the largest importer of gums and resins in South America, visited Kenya and Somaliland on a fact finding mission to explore opportunities to buy myrrh and frankincense directly from producers and/or traders in African producer countries and also to see first hand the resources where these important commodities come from. It is hoped that this will translate into increased incomes and improved livelihoods for the rural communities where these resources are found.
The NGARA Secretariat Office in Nairobi, Kenya organized the visit to Somaliland (14th to 23rd July 2010) and Northern Kenya (25th to 30th July 2010) to explore trade opportunities, meet the relevant authorities, visit the production areas of myrrh and frankincense and also meet traders and producer groups in Hargeisa, Burao and Ainabo in Somaliland and Nairobi, Isiolo, Serolipi, and Laisamis in Kenya.
In Somaliland the team was hosted and well facilitated by the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce and also received support from FAO Somali Office in Hargeisa. In Kenya, the national association Gums and Resins of Kenya (GARA) played a key role in facilitating the visits to traders and producers both in Nairobi and in Northern Kenya.