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Japan Assists Shea Butter Producers

2007-11-08 20:00:40
This article has been read 985 times.

The Japanese government has signed a grant contract worth 85,833 US dollars (approximately 80,665 Ghana cedis) with Africa 2000 Network-Ghana, an NGO to empower women and help reduce poverty in communities.

The grant was under the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects scheme (GGHSP) and was to help in the construction of a shea nut processing centre at Walewale and the expansion of an existing facility at Sagnarigu, both in the Northern region.

Addressing the signing ceremony at the Embassy in Accra, the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Masamichi Ishikawa said: "Shea butter and other shea nut products are currently in high demand both in Ghana and on the international market", he said.

He said there is huge potential in shea butter production and acknowledged that shea butter is sold in large quantity in the Japanese market.

"Japan import about 70% of shea butter from Ghana", he said. He said when the people of Sagnarigu and Walewale are able to produce enough shea butter to meet the high demand on the international market, they would be able to improve their incomes and livelihoods; and reduce poverty and its attendant problem.

Ambassador Ishikawa described the project at Sagnarigu as a vibrant one and said the activities there would involve the extension of the store and roasting area at the shea nut processing centre. A warehouse, a fence wall and a paved walkway would also be constructed.

He said at Walewale, the GGHSP grant would cover the cost of construction of a new shea nut processing facility comprising a store, a roasting area and a nut warehouse.

This, he said, would allow the women of these two communities to produce, store and market high-quality shea butter all year round in a safe, secure environment benefiting an estimated 650 to 700 people in the region.

He said the Japanese government is committed to the empowerment of women and the improvement of living standards throughout Africa. Through the GGHSP scheme, the Embassy of Japan has assisted several communities around the country to engage in sustainable income-generating projects.

He commended the efforts of Africa 2000 Network Ghana and the people of Sagnarigu and Walewale to create economic opportunities in their communities.

The Executive Director of Africa 2000 Network Ghana, Madam Adisa Lansah Yakubu thanked the Japanese government for its immense support and contributions to the country's development.

She said shea butter constitutes a key income source for many indigenous households and it is particularly essential for local women because the shea butter industry has been traditionally acknowledged as 'women's work' in Northern Ghana.

She said over 800,000 women in Northern Ghana depend on incomes from the sales of shea butter and other shea-related products as a means of their daily livelihoods.

"Even more importantly, not only as a source of generating income for rural households, shea butter processing strengthens group cohesion as no one woman can undertake the activity single handedly at the commercial level", she said.

The Sagnarigu community has a population of 293,881 (Tamale Municipality) and Walewale, with a population of 115,025 (West Mamprusi District).

About 36 communities in the Northern region are expected to benefit from the project.


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