Women shea-nut farmers and collectors in the East Gonja Municipality of the Northern Region have appealed for government to complete an abandoned warehouse, as well as to build new ones.
According to the farmers and collectors, lack of storage facilities is adversely affecting their operations because they are unable to store raw nuts before releasing them onto the market. This, they added, also affects their incomes as women since they cannot collect sufficient quantities and store throughout the year.
They therefore urged government, especially the local assembly, to complete an abandoned warehouse constructed by the assembly in the early 1960s. They said the facilities, when completed along with new ones, will boost shea activities in the municipality. It will also empower women in the area.
The premises of the abandoned warehouse, they explained, have been taken over by reptiles, insects and rodents, while the surroundings have been turned into latrines by residents.
Some residents who spoke to the B&FT expressed worry about the halt, stating that it has deprived many women and youth of a source of livelihood; meanwhile, most shea farmers have also cut down on farming activities due to the lack of storage facilities.
Development Frontiers Women Cooperative (DFWC), an association of shea pickers and processors in the East Gonja Municipality, told the B&FT of their plight. They said the quantity of nuts produced in the area has reduced because of the challenges they face in accessing warehouses.
DFWC’s Secretary, Grace Ayijunu, said the Assembly started the warehouse but lack of funding halted it, thereby affecting the business of local women shea pickers and processors.
He stressed that the Association was formed to ensure bulk picking of the shea, aggregation at specific locations, and bulk sales are made to an organised buyer through the warehouse receipting system to enhance the Association’s revenue.
“The Association planned to rely on available public and private warehouses for this business model or at best own a number of warehouses to store their produce, but capital has been a problem,” she said.
According to her, with funding from DANIDA, EU and USAID under the BUSAC fund, the Association has implemented a number of activities including research and census on the number of modern warehouses in the Municipality.
The findings, she noted, revealed that the majority of storage facilities in the area are made up of local structures; and in the last twenty years, the Municipality has not had any form of commercial warehouse.
She stressed that the Association will be happy if the local authorities and central government consider constructing warehouses in the Municipality to enhance local shea business.