The price of shea nuts has gone up in the Northern Regional capital, Tamale – which has compelled processors and traders to increase the prices of their products.
A bowl of shea nut, which was sold at GH¢5.00 now sells at GH¢7.00; a bag that ranged in price from GH¢160.00 to GH¢170.00 now goes for GH¢180.00 to GH¢200.
In view of this, the price of 330 grammes of processed shea butter has increased from GH¢10.00 to GH¢15.00; while that of the 25kg has been increased from GH¢300.00 to GH¢370.00 for grade A export standard.
The grade B for local consumption has gone up from GH¢10.00 to GH¢13.00 per kilogramme, as checks by the B&FT revealed.
Large-scale shea pickers around Kumbungu, Gushiegu, Karaga, Savelugu, Nanton, Bole and other parts of the Northern Region are likely to suffer losses this year if there is no rain in this season.
The lack of a Shea board to regulate the floor price for shea nut purchases in the region at the farm gate level has been a problem to the pickers, because the activities of middlemen contribute to the hikes.
Lack of storage facilities for the picked shea-nuts has also meant that they end up selling their produce at low prices to prevent them from being destroyed.
Though the Shea nut Farmers Association, which is the nationally recognised body representing the interests of shea nut farmers across the length and breadth of this country, played a key role, lack of policy guidelines continues to be a hindrance to the sector.
The entire Northern Region, for the past three years, has been experiencing drought because the rains are not forthcoming as expected.
Some of the frustrated retailers, including Isaac Amoah and Alhassan Iddrisu, bemoaned the situation and said business is down. They said customers are alarmed by the price hikes.
A shea expert, Prof. Seidu Alhassan, who is also the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS), told the B&FT that the hike in prices is due to the high demand from both the local and international markets.
“Shea has been recognised as one of the best commodities in the market, which has no side-effect – but the inability of the pickers to access the quality and quantity needed by the investors is the problem.”
According to him, when the demand is high, obviously the price will also go high due to the scarcity that might be encountered on the market.
“In northern Ghana in general, and the Tamale Metropolis in particular, many women process shea butter as their main source of income; and in recognition of this a number of stakeholders, including the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Non-Governmental Organisations, the National Board for Small Scale Industries and other private businesses, have taken keen interest in the sector – culminating in the provision of resources to support the industry,” he said.
“As part of efforts to support the economic empowerment of women in general and shea butter processors in particular, there is a need to help establish more shea butter extraction centres for the women processing groups to enhance their activities,” he added.
He stressed that the fruits contribute to food security, particularly for the rural poor, especially since their ripening coincides with the lean season of food production.