The 12th Annual International Conference on Shea that brings together all business associates and shea interest groups around the world to share latest information is to be held in Accra from March 11 to March 13.
This year’s event, which will be on the theme ‘Unveiling the Value of Shea’, will offer opportunities for showcasing recent products and technologies in shea and create the platform to network and connect stakeholders in the shea value chain.
It is being hosted and jointly organised by the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) and Shea Network Ghana (SNG) with support from the EXIM Bank Ghana.
Mr. Zakaria Iddi, National Coordinator of SNG who spoke during the launch of the event in Tamale, said selecting the country to host the event for the fourth time is not surprising, as the country is a major player in the world as far as shea is concerned.
He said shea has become an important cash crop that requires national attention, adding: “For the rest of our generations to come, shea will continue to have greater impact on the income security of rural women in particular, and the sector’s key challenges need attention and policy action”.
He therefore called on government to list shea under the Economic Plants Protection Act NRCD 47, which currently applies to only cocoa, to guarantee incentives and compensation to rural women in communities whose economic shea trees were cut down to give way for government projects.
Mr. Iddi called on government to set up a dedicated Shea Board to holistically support the shea sector in unearthing its full potential to boost the income of rural women shea pickers, as well as earn increased foreign exchange.
Mr. Prince Obeng, Executive Council Member, GSA, said annual exports of shea from the country in 2016 stood at 59,500 metric tonnes, which was equivalent to US$17million direct income for women shea collectors and eight million dollars for their communities.
Mr. Obeng, who is also Board Chairman of SNG, said over 28,000 women were trained in shea processing while about 600,000 were engaged in the shea value chain to earn incomes.
He appealed to all to avoid bush-fires as well as felling the shea trees for burning charcoal to protect the trees.
Mrs. Mariam Iddrisu, Municipal Chief Executive for Sagnarigu, assured of government’s commitment to developing the shea sector – adding that is why it opened a shea operational secretariat in Tamale.
She commended stakeholders for their continued commitment to promoting the shea industry in the country.
Mr. Bright Evans Darko, Head, Business Development and Projects, EXIM Bank Ghana, expressed the bank’s commitment to increasing the capacity of women shea collectors through the provision of equipment among others to improve their operations.