The National Coordinator for Shea Network Ghana (SNG), Iddi Zakaria, has called on government to compensate communities where Shea trees are destroyed to make room for government projects and infrastructure.
According to him, Shea trees serve as the main source of livelihood for rural women; therefore, when the trees are destroyed without any replanting or compensations for the rural women, they are denied their daily bread and only source of income.
The National Coordinator, who disclosed this to B&FT in an interview, noted that the Shea tree increasingly is under threat due to its destruction for commercial farming, extension of government development projects, and other factors such as bush fires among others.
“There is a limited day to day ownership and surveillance on the trees’ survival, making it difficult for the marginalised women, especially, who depend on the economic trees for their livelihoods,” he said.
“The women who mostly collect the nuts do not have ownership rights of trees to be able to invest in them and also protect them to guarantee future access,” he added.
“We therefore call on the assembly to leverage other projects such as Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) and other initiatives on Shea, and develop bye-laws to protect Shea resources in the communities. There is need for proper targetting and ensuring the inclusion of Shea women in governance of the upcoming Tree Crops Development Authority,” he added.
He also called for immediate amendment of the Economic Plants Protection Act, to include Shea and help prevent the destruction of economic Shea trees for illegal charcoal production and logging; as well as their destruction by government to make room for developmental projects and infrastructure.
The trees, when added to the policy, would help government and other individuals that tamper with the trees pay compensation to the women in affected communities.
A farmer and leader of the Laligu Women Cooperative Group, Salima Mohammed, in an interview said they used to collect the Shea nuts as a hobby and sell them in bowls for little – but with the inception of the GESI Shea Project and training they have received from SNG, Shea picking has become a profession and means of survival for them and their families.
“We use to sell in small bowls for as low as GH¢5; but thanks to SNG and the GESI Shea project, we are able to pick more nuts, sell in bulk and even process them into butter. Today, we have been able to form our own Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) to support each other financially,” she added.