Sudan’s eruption into conflict has left international consumer goods makers racing to shore up supplies of gum Arabic, one of the country’s most sought-after products and a key ingredient in everything from fizzy drinks to candy and cosmetics.
About Gum Arabic:
- It is the natural gum exuded by various species of Acacia trees.
- The main source of commercial gum Arabic is Acacia Senegal L.willd.and Acacia seyal trees.
- The trees are native to North Africa and grow mainly in the sub-Saharan or Sahel zone of Africa and also in Australia, India and South America.
- It is found in some parts of India mainly in the dry rocky hills of southeast Punjab, in the northern Aravalli hills and other drier parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- Major producing countries: Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Nigeria and Sudan (market share of about 70%).
- Method of harvesting:
- The gum exudes from the cracks on the bark of the tree under difficult conditions such as heat, dryness, wounds, and diseases.
- The gum flows naturally from the bark of the trees in the form of a thick and rather frothy liquid and speedily concretes in the sun into tears.
- Period of harvesting/collection: The collection of gum Arabic takes place at intervals during the dry season from November to May. During the rainy season, no gum is formed since the trees are in full bloom.
- Properties of Gum Arabic
- It is a neutral or slightly acidic salt of a complex polysaccharide containing calcium, magnesium, and potassium cations.
- It is non-toxic, odourless, and has a bland taste and it does not affect the odour, colour or taste of the system in which it is used
- It is somewhat yellowish in colour.
- It is insoluble in oils and in most organic solvents, but usually dissolves completely in hot or cold water forming a clear, mucilaginous solution.
- It yields L-arabinose, L-rhamnose, D-galactose and D-glucuronic acid after hydrolysis.
- It is used in many industries like Food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics etc.
Q1) What are Polysaccharides?
Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates that are made up of long chains of simple sugar molecules (monosaccharides) joined together by glycosidic bonds. They are typically made up of hundreds or thousands of monosaccharides and can vary in their chemical structure.