The Second Lady, Mrs Samira Bawumia, has launched the first edition of the World Shea Expo, with an appeal to stakeholders to support a revamp of the country’s shea-nut value chain.
She said even though the shea industry had the potential to address critical developmental challenges such as women empowerment, food security and industrialisation, it would need the commitment of more resources to achieve that objective.
Mrs Bawumia, who launched the event in Accra yesterday, said enhancing farm value for shea would not only accelerate development in Ghana’s rural areas but also build on its economy.
“As the world is moving rapidly towards a knowledge-based economy, relevant education and access to information can make all the difference in creating a robust industry.
An event such as the Shea Expo, which brings together players in the value chain, is an opportunity to expand knowledge on the shea industry,” she added.
The World Shea Expo, which is the first of its kind in the country, is intended to showcase Ghana's shea-nut industry to the world as the producer of the best shea-butter in the sub-region.
The main event will take place at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale, the Northern Regional capital, from April 22-25, 2020.
It will be on the theme: “Repositioning the shea industry to accelerate Ghana’s export diversification agenda within the context of Ghana Beyond Aid”.
Mrs Bawumia said events such as the Shea Expo were to afford stakeholders the opportunity to showcase Ghana’s shea-nut industry, promote its products and create both local and international markets for it to thrive.
She said the shea tree had now gone beyond being an integral part of life in the northern part of the country to become a viable economic venture.
“The collection and processing of shea-nuts are significant activities for women in those regions, since they provides them with income for livelihood.
The demand for shea has been growing and manufacturers are responding by creating products desired by global consumers,” she added.
The Second Lady further said over the last two decades, shea exports had increased by 600 per cent and that they continued to bring stable income to rural communities across West Africa.
Data from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) showed that Ghana exported $90 million worth of shea and its derivatives in 2018, which is approximately 55,990 tonnes, an increase over the $70 million exported in 2017.
Despite such remarkable gains, Mrs Bawumia said, there were still challenges along the value chain which needed to be addressed, including unfair pricing, felling and burning of shea trees and uncollected nuts.
She, however, said the government was committed to addressing some of the challenges under the implementation of initiatives such as Planting for Export and Rural Development, which is aimed at increasing exports, boosting local production and growing the economy.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Savannah Golden Tree Limited, organisers of the World Shea Expo, Mr Rashid :Zakaria, explained that the event sought to publicly recognise the efforts and contributions of women, the youth and small to medium enterprises to the shea-butter industry.
"It will also bring forth results of extensive research work done by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) sub-station at Bole to reduce the gestation period of the shea tree to make it more attractive to women and the youth of this country," he added.
The Executive Director of the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), Mrs Kosi Yankey Ayeh, expressed the resolve of her office to partner organisers of the World Shea Expo to build the capacity of farmers in the sector.
Some exhibitors at the launch expressed the hope that their participation in the World Shea Expo would enable them to build networks for future expansion of their businesses.
According to them, expanding their businesses was key to enhancing their operations.