Buipe Sheanut Processing Factory - A Dream Come True
2009-11-28 11:23:50This article has been read 1026 times.
The cutting of the sod for work to begin on the construction of a sheanut processing factory in Buipe on November 14 2009 by Vice President John Dramani Mahama could well be described as a dream come true.
The 10 million-dollar Sheanut Factory would process sheanuts into shea butter, shea oils and other derivatives and exported to Brazil. The Project, a joint venture between the Produce Buying Company Limited (PBC), a wholly Ghanaian Company, and Messrs LDS Maquinas e' Equipmentos Industrias Limited of Brazil, would have an initial capacity of about 40,000 tonnes annually. Buipe is located on the Kintampo - Tamale Highway just after the bridge on the Black Volta River, which serves as a border between the Brong Ahafo and Northern Regions.
Buipe has been chosen as a growth pole for the Savannah Belt under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) programme, which covers Northern; Upper East; Upper West; parts of Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions.
The lack of ready market for the sheanut has hindered the potential contribution of this agricultural commodity to the economic development of these areas. The poverty stricken people of the Savannah Belt, who have picked and collected sheanut to make a living, would now heave a sigh of relief with the establishment of the factory.
Vice President Mahama said: "The Buipe sheanut plant will be duplicated in other Savannah Regions to ensure a balanced development of our country and give meaning to our Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA)."
He said the: "Transformation of our Savannah lands for efficient agricultural utilization leading to domestic food security and enhanced export earnings remains a key objective to the NDC Government with the siting of this project and others in the pipeline within the Savannah Belt of our country under the NDC's SADA programme. We hope to create jobs and improve incomes for the rural and urban dwellers to redress the imbalances in our national development."
COCOBOD and Government are also to provide 2,000 solar streetlights at Buipe and other areas of the Savannah belts as part of the Poverty Alleviation Strategies.
A solar water treatment plant would also be established to provide potable water for the people in the Northern parts of the country.
Mr Anthony Osei Boakye, Managing Director of PBC, said Messrs Sysgate Brazil Limited has been mandated under the agreement to handle the marketing of the shea butter on the Brazilian market adding that the decision to process and export shea butter had placed a premium on the shea tree. He said the sustainability of the project was of paramount importance and everything must be done to ensure the continuous supply of the raw material. The finished product would be transported to the Port of Tema through the Volta Lake to be exported to Santos, a Port in Brazil. Mr William Mensah, Deputy Chief Executive Finance & Administration of COCOBOD, said the Company would support sheanut pickers/collectors with Wellington boots and gloves, among other things.
The sheanut industry has a rather long history. The trees grow wild in the whole of the Savannah area, which occupies more than half of Ghana's total landmass of 2,385,100 square kilometres.
According to a USAID Report prepared in November 2004 for West Africa Trade Hub (WATH) Ghana has an estimated minimum total annual production potential of 200,000 tonnes of sheanut. The Report puts the production level at 130,000 tonnes out of which 70,000 tonnes was being consumed locally and the remaining 60,000 tonnes exported.
Of the quantity exported, 45,000 tonnes was in the form of shea kernel, while 15,000 tonnes was in the form of shea-butter. The Report states further that Ghana's shea kernel has a high content of shea butter.
From the country's estimated total annual production, it is envisaged that there would be enough raw material for the Buipe plant. The USAID Report also estimates that nearly 48 per cent of sheanut remained uncollected and under utilized in any given year in Ghana due to lack of ready market for the collectors and gatherers. Over the years sheanut production has been handled by the PBC.
In the implementation of the cocoa sector reform in the early 1990s COCOBOD's mandate with respect to sheanut was varied from its original form under the Ghana Cocoa Board Law 1984, PNDC Law 1981. The COCOBOD was charged to regulate the marketing and export of sheanut in addition to carrying out research, which it has been carrying out through the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.
In 2006 the Cocoa, Coffee and Sheanut Farmers' Association (GCCSFA) appealed to the Government to intervene in the dwindling fortunes of the sheanut industry.
Many stakeholder workshops were organized and a national steering committee was formed. This was preceded by the appointment of a coordinator and the granting of loans for purchases by GCCSFA and PBC. Following the preliminary performance by PBC Ltd, COCOBOD has proposed to establish a sheanut unit within the Board to oversee the operations of the industry.
To provide a guaranteed price and prevent exploitation by agents within the value chain, a floor price shall be fixed in consultation with all stakeholders prior to the opening of any season.
Due to the fact that sheanut has been the source of livelihood for many of the people in the Savannah belt, the establishment of a unit to oversee the growth of the sheanut industry would be an essential tool to alleviate poverty.
As part of its poverty alleviation strategy, the government last February tasked COCOBOD to ensure that all sheanut purchases were sold /exported as a matter of urgency.
COCOBOD was also directed to financially assist the Produce Buying Company (PBC) to implement policies that would lead to maximization of sheanut picking and collection and to ensure value addition through processing. This is aimed at opening employment opportunities to those in the rural areas.
The Buipe factory would employ 50 technical and administrative staff and engage about 2,000 pickers.
According to political observers the establishment of the Buipe Sheanut Factory is building on the achievements of previous governments, a key pronouncement of the Government.
President John Evans Atta Mills was quoted as saying that 'a nation that breaks down its foundation would never grow,' while the Vice President has also noted that the NDC Government would recognize any achievements made by previous Governments. The people can only say welcome to the scientific processing factory for sheanut at Buipe.