The wife of the vice-president, Samira Bawumia, has urged institutions and investors to commit resources into the shea industry so it can realise its full potential of generating huge foreign exchange for the country.
Speaking at the launch of World Shea Expo 2020, which is slated for Tamale in April 22-25 in Accra, she maintained that as the shea industry grows, the actors involved must grow with it and improve capacity to compete with local and regional markets.
“We need to ensure that our shea is delivered faster, efficiently and at the highest quality to the global market; we can ensure this by supporting local processing with the required investment and partnerships, and we therefore hope that this expo will unleash a new force into the industry,” she said.
Considering the decline in development aid to Africa, the continent must prioritise domestic revenue mobilisation of funds to finance “our own development initiatives and programmes, and the time to build a self-sufficient continent and country is now.
“The right partnerships will ensure we maximise the economic potential of the shea industry. This will provide the needed environment and initiate transformational economic growth through export earnings.”
Statistics from GEPA indicate that Ghana exported a total of US$90m worth of shea butter and its derivatives in 2018, which is approximately 55,990 tonnes – an increase from about 70 million tonnes in 2017.
Over the last two decades, shea exports have increased by 600 percent and continue to bring stable income to rural communities across West Africa and Ghana in particular, the second lady noted.
She however added that despite the gains, there remain challenges which ought to be overcome along the value chain.
These include unfair pricing which affects the rural women – “Who is making the profit? Are we going back to see that those breaking their backs are who is profiting from this business; or are getting the fair wages or prices they should get for the nuts they are picking, she queried.
“We are also looking at the felling and burning of shea trees – it is unfortunate because in many communities they do not understand that their activities are affecting the economic value of the nuts and uncollected nuts.”
She also advocated a model that focuses on integration stressing on the origins of are the nuts, how they are being picked, how well women are being equipped to pick them.
“If this industry grows and booms as we expect it to, are we going to be able to supply enough nuts and we do have the nuts; so what training are we giving to communities where these nuts are in order to pick safely and to access these nuts? In everything that we do, we should think about the source, the supply chain.”
The expo will afford an opportunity to showcase Ghana’s shea nut industry, promote the product and create both local and international markets for businesses, and highlight the contribution of shea to empowerment of rural women.
Executive Director of National Board for Small Scale Industries(NBSSI), Kosi Yankey Ayeh, indicated that her outfit will use her 178 Business Advisory Centres to provide capacity training for women in shea industry, and said that the crop can play a crucial role in moving the nation forward.
The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Ron Strikker, stated that the Netherlands is strongly involved in supporting the shea value and supply chain; and that with an increasingly growth rate between 5 – 9 percent every year, it is important to promote and foster investments through Public Private Partnerships to make it more professional.
The Northern Region Minister, Salifu Saeed, urged prospective investors to take advantage of the opportunities which abound in shea, and encouraged them to invest given that there is peace in all five regions of the North.