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Nigeria lagging behind in Shea butter production

Despite having the largest number of Shea nuts among the 21 shea butter-producing countries in the world, the lack of focus by the Federal Government has put Nigeria in the back seat, behind countries like Ghana.

This was revealed by stakeholders at the Shea Gender Conference 2023 held in Ikeja, Lagos, with the theme, ‘Dare to Dream Tech for Shea’. The conference was designed to empower and inspire women in the Shea cosmetics sector and to explore the integration of cutting-edge technology across the Shea value chain.

The aim of this maiden edition was the need for the adoption of technology in the shea cosmetics sector to enhance product quality and efficiency, provide a platform for knowledge sharing and networking among women in the industry, empower women in the sector with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a rapidly changing technological landscape and to foster collaboration between Shea Women Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and CBI Netherlands in advancing the shea cosmetics industry.

Speaking at the conference, Chief Executive Officer, Added Asset, Peter Hurst, said while the potential in the sector spurs his interest and others, he expressed sadness that Nigeria is not performing as a country with the largest crop of shea among the 21 producing countries.

“Ghana is taking the lead from Nigeria and, most of the people I spoke with, agreed with me that Nigeria needs to take its place. Both the government and private sector should come together to develop and transform the sector.

“Twenty one countries are growing shea and 16 million women involved in the process, so, women are dominant but they are not being rewarded for their efforts.”

Speaking with The Guardian, Founder, Shea to Dream, Mobola Segoe, said: “Shea is a commodity needed globally but how do we access the market, how do we resolve the economic challenges in Nigeria? We have a lot of people who are interested in exporting but there are lots of challenges to produce at the level they can export. There is the challenge of a hike in the price of fuel. We have issues at the port. It’s not easy to go through different agencies as a small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs).”

Speaking on her experience working with locals, she said: “We started with the rural women in 2010 and as at today, we have trained over 8000 women since 2014, and having SWAN as part of this project has expanded our reach and we are training more under the CBI project; we are building knowledge to transform it into quality products for export.”

On his part, Senior Programme Manager, Centre for the Promotion of Imports, Patrick Gouka, said: “There are opportunities in shea as an ingredient for cosmetics. Up till now, Nigeria cannot deliver the quantity demanded by the European markets but the potential is huge if harnessed. One of the challenges to meeting demands also includes packaging in line with what is required by the European markets. It’s also not about delivering the products but doing it in sustainable ways; sustainability issues are high on the agenda of European buyers.”

Source: The Guardian