Shea farmers and processors in the Northern Region have called for revamping the Presidential Special Support for Shea-nut, an initiative aimed at guaranteeing export earnings from the Shea commodity.
Shea has the potential to generate more foreign exchange for the country and also provide jobs for the teeming youth, as well as women and the aged, in the three northern regions if given the needed government support, they said.
According to the National Association of Shea-nut Farmers, Processors and Buyers of Ghana, renewed interest in the sector from government will help boost output and quality of Shea products to meet growing demand, both locally and internationally, and generate revenue for the country.
“It is through the Shea-nuts that we generate our daily bread to feed our families and also invest in our businesses.
“So, if government can revamp the Presidential Special Support and complete the Aboaba Shea Market, it will be of great help to the farmers, traders and other players. It will ensure an even pricing regime for the commodity,” said Alhaji Hussein Abdul Mayasir Baba, Northern Regional Chairman of the association.
In spite of the increasing demand for Shea-butter, which can be transformed into a wide range of products – cosmetics, textiles, among others – lack of support for the domestic value chain has over the years dwindled its contribution to the national economy.
Government, in 2015, inaugurated a Shea Committee with an earmarked GH¢5million toward development of the industry, which included planting some 2 million Shea-nut trees in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
Along with that, 12 Shea-nut processing plants were also to be constructed in the three regions, while 1,000 women were trained to form a pivot of the shea value chain.
However, recent checks by B&FT in the three regions indicate that none of these have be done, which many players say is hampering development of the sector.
The checks also revealed that the industry is confronted with numerous challenges: such as an uncontrolled pricing regime; inadequate information on the crop due to limited research; bush fires; lack of political will to support its development; and extinction due to cutting down the trees for charcoal.
National Coordinator of the Shea Nut Network Ghana, an NGO, Zakaria Iddi told B&FT that his outfit has been able to sell about 500 shea pickers mechanised rollers for collecting the Shea-nuts to farmers to help improve Shea collection.
He added that about 2,000 of the pickers have been received from Australia to support the Shea farmers improve their activities.
He, however, expressed worry over the reckless felling of the Shea trees, saying: “If the practice is not stopped it could worsen the poverty situation in the north, since Shea is the only source of income for many households”.