Upfield West Africa has donated an aggregation warehouse facility to Women Shea Cooperative at Bongbini, a farming community in the East Mamprusi District of North-East Region.
The facility is expected to store about 150,000 tons of shea nuts to curb the stress shea pickers, mostly women, go through in storing the nuts.
The gesture by Upfield, a global leader in plant-based nutrition and the leading producer of plant-based margarines, forms part of an initiative to support more than 140,000 women in the shea value chain of the country.
The Managing Director of Upfield West Africa, Bamidele Amao Moses, said his organization has so far planted 6, 000 shea tree to restore damaged and aging trees for sustainability of the local industry.
“Shea business helps to empower women groups as well improve their livelihoods and so, it is a priority to Upfield to ensure that business within the shea sector is enhanced to create job opportunities to curb the unemployment rates within rural areas,” he said.
Apart from providing the women with safe storage facility, the products would be purchased by two institutions namely Fuji OIL Ghana and Eco Restore, under the initiative.
The support included the provision of protective gear and capacity training to ensure the collection of quality Shea nuts to meet market demands.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Municipal Crop Officer at Department of Agriculture, Yacub Iddris Zanabongo, who represented the Municipal Director, said the support would strengthen the capacity of shea pickers, while the protective gears would also address the issue of snake bites and other forms of dangers associated with shea nut picking.
“It is a laudable idea as many of our mothers do not have enough space in their homes to keep their produce and are often compelled to sell nuts at farm gate prices,” he said.
He lamented that the conditions under which most of the women store the nuts affects the quality of the nuts, since some of the nuts get rotten as a result of moisture.
The Bongbini women group, led by Poanaaba Makoa Tia, expressed gratitude for the support, saying it would prevent them from storing the nuts in their homes which result in huge post-harvest losses.
According to the group, lack of safe storage facilities compels them to sell the nuts at giveaway prices to middle men.
For his part, Executive Director of Fuji Oil Ghana, Ronny Voorspool, said the company would work with the women cooperative to provide quality shea nuts, adding: “The quality nuts would also encourage us to pay good price”.
Similarly, Executive Director of Eco Restore, Dr. Peter Lovette, assured that the company remains committed to buying all the nuts from women groups in the area to enable them generate enough revenue.