The Bunge Loders Croklaan Industries Limited, experts in oils and fats, is geared toward promoting sustainability of the shea industry through its well-life growth programme and corporate social responsibility.
Empowering women and future generations, creating socio-economic value at origin, and conserving and protecting shea landscapes are the three key objectives which its sustainability programme is aggressively pursuing.
These areas, according to Sustainability Manager, Laura de Gruijter, are the main challenges of the shea industry, and indicated measures are already in place to address them.
“It is all about responsible sourcing, impact programmes and improving the livelihoods of female shea collectors; training and education of quality on youth, which of course will ultimately lead to higher income generation for some of the women shea collectors and Support Children’s Education, a project in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages,” she said.
She noted that about 1,000 women will benefit from its women training cooperatives programme by the end of 2021, while necessary shea enhancing collection equipment as well as warehouses are also being provided.
The Sustainability Manager revealed the industry loses over 8 million shea trees annually due to deforestation, and they intend to embark on a tree-planting project to replace them. The company, moving forward, is working together with Global Shea Alliance to plant over 10 million shea trees in 10 years across Africa to mitigate effects of the loss.
“This is one of the main challenges for the shea industry; every year 8 million shea trees are lost as a result of degradation or deforestation. We need to come together as industry players so we can still have these shea trees for the future.
“For that reason, we are very committed to preserve and protect this shea landscapes – not only the shea trees but also local tree species in those landscapes. So, one of the things we are doing is replanting these shea trees and others. In 2020 we planted 6,000 trees; and for the coming year we will be planting 12,000,” she disclosed.
She also highlighted efforts to ensure health and safety of the women, adding that the company is currently distributing cooking stoves for household cooking to prevent cutting down shea trees for firewood and create more farmer-awareness on shea tree protection. She described the efforts as a big step, and called on other players in the industry to come onboard in the planting of shea trees.