About 200 women in Shea picking and processing are to benefit from a Shea plantation and processing centre in Zinndow community under the Gushegu district of the Northern Region to boost shea production.
The chief of Zinndow, Naa Alhassan Abdulai, has released eight (8) acres of land for the project, which is being implemented by Right Shea Limited and The Shea Watch, which are non-governmental organisations.
The Programmes Officer for Shea Watch, Isaac Nana Kweku Amoah, told the B&FT that the project, when completed, will be handed to the shea women cooperative at Zinndow to ensure proper maintenance, accountability and sustainability.
According to him, the women who engage in shea production encounter lots of challenges that hamper their productivity.
“The processing centre will help add value to the processing of shea butter and other products to enhance the activity of the women and produce quality products that meet demands of the market,” he said.
He added that the organisations will also train the women in bead-making to engage them during the peak season and serve as an additional income-generating avenue for the upkeep of their families.
Mr. Amoah indicated that women, especially those in rural northern Ghana, are noted to be the poorest; and the only way to reverse that trend is through initiatives with shea nuts and other workable measures.
“We had to approach the chief and traditional leaders after assessing the trauma women go through in accessing lands and the resources needed for their production in earning a living,” he said.
He also expressed worry over the extent to which shea trees are being cut down in the rural areas, which is hampering the women’s activities.
He advocated the enforcement of forestry bye-laws to prevent people from engaging in the indiscriminate felling of economic trees.
He appealed to government and donor agencies for support to empower the cooperatives to step up their penetration into international markets.
The Director of Right Shea Limited, Ibrahim Jabir Mohammed, said government is keen on developing the shea sector in the country, due to its enormous benefits to the economy and livelihoods of people in northern parts of the country.
“There is therefore a need to develop the industry’s downstream sector, because collection of the nuts is not enough. We need to go further and take greater advantage of the industry’s value and improve the sector to create wealth and job opportunities for the women and rural dwellers,” he said.
He stressed that the organisations are committed to engendering a common national Shea agenda, and facilitating and coordinating the efforts of all stakeholders in promoting Shea for the equal benefit of actors in the sector.
“We seek to influence policy and provide solutions to industry-wide challenges for a growing and coordinated Shea sector,” he added.