Boureima Wankoye is president of Achats Service International (ASI) - a company which has proven to be an excellent example of a private sector initiative in environmental protection.
ASI introduced and encouraged the mass plantation of bum arabic for export to Europe in the drylands of Niger, which has not only helped rehabilitate degraded land in these areas, it has also provided a profitable, income-generating activity for its inhabitants. It has thus tackled both adverse weather and land conditions as well as poverty, marking a breakthrough in sustainable development in drylands, where the world's poorest reside. Its activities have proven that innovative, profit-making solutions to environmental problems are feasible even in the poorest agricultural and economic conditions, and with modest capital.
The plantation of 1,200 hectares of gum arabic in the drylands of Niger by ASI has greatly contributed to environmental rehabilitaiton and the eradicatin of poverty in these areas. It has provided a source of income for more than 6,000 rural families, rehabilitated degraded land through afforestation, helped preserve almost extinct animal species, and created value for African agricultural products in the world market. It has also drawn attention to the value of gum arabic, which requires little water and no fertilizer and can be used for commercial purposes such as soft drinks, cosmetics and civil aviation, as a specimen for profit-generating agricultural production in dryland rural areas.
ASI's example has paved the way for the establishment of other such enterprises in drylands throughout the country and round the region.