By Samuel SAM, Tamale
About 50 women shea-nut processors and pickers in Tamale have undergone training in shea soap production to help improve their livelihoods.
They were also trained on best ways of processing the resource, selecting and par-boiling to ensure quality shea products to meet quality assurance and international standards for increased incomes.
The progarmme was organised by the Ritadamps Ventures and Suhcare Company Limited, shea value chain actors, and funded by the DANIDA Alumni Network.
It was on the theme ‘Empowering Rural Women in the Shea Nut Industry with additional skill in Shea Soap production’.
It seeks to empower women who produce shea butter to venture into manufacturing value-added products to augment the seasonal butter production.
The women also learned about the effects of exposure to excessive heat and smoke, and how efforts are being made to come up with innovative solutions to address those issues.
The initiative by Ritadamps Ventures, a shea processer and advocator, seeks to improve the livelihoods of women Shea-nut processers and producers by offering training, greater ownership within the supply chain, and access to improved technology.
“Women, everywhere, face challenges when combining income-generating activities with household chores. What may not be known is that, traditionally, people in the northern parts of Ghana have regarded shea trees as a women’s crop and the shea trade a women’s business.
Shea-butter processing and extraction also remains the major economic activity and independent income source for most rural women, and it currently creates jobs for over 900,000 people – with 97% of them being women in the three northern regions.
The National Coordinator of Shea Network Ghana, Mr. Zakaria Iddi, said with giant strides made from shea products there is a need for the shea-nut industry to get a separate board and not remain under Cocoabod, since the two serve different purposes.
He encouraged men to assist their women because gender roles and responsibilities in the community are an impediment to producing the required amounts of shea-nuts.
The CEO of Ritadamps Ventures, Madam Rita Dampson, said over 80,000 women in northern Ghana depend on income from the sales of shea-butter and other shea-related products for their very survival.
She said there is need for the actors to upgrade themselves and adapt to modern ways of processing to meet international standards.
She appealed for government to support women entrepreneurs expand their businesses to enable them employ a lot more women.
Madam Rita Quist Therson of Suhcare Company Ltd. said the training formed part of a series of trainings which are being carried out for rural women in Northern Ghana who produce shea butter, in order to increase their low incomes as well improve the quality of shea nut products. FIN