By y Seye Olumide
Niger State is on the verge of becoming the main hub for Shea Butter in Nigeria.
Currently, the state boasts of having the largest collection of Shea trees in the world, controlling about 54 per cent of all the trees in Nigeria and of the vaunted 325,000 metric tonnes of Shea nut and butter exported from Nigeria.
To tap fully into the economic potentials of the Shea tree, the state has appointed a consultant, First Heritage Global Investments Limited, leading a team of experts, to come up with the Niger State Shea Sector Development Programme (NSSSDP).
One of its assignments is to draw a Master plan for the expansion of the Shea sector value chain and structuring of a Shea sector economy. The consultants insist that this requires a new value chain matrix for the Shea sector, which their experts have now produced to guide the development of the Master plan.
That new matrix, showing all the opportunities available to Nigerians in the Shea sector has been published already in NSSSDP publications, including its “better life from Shea butter” sensitisation flyers.
The NSSSDP has developed an advocacy concerning the work that needs to be done and the paradigm shift that it would entail. This advocacy has already been delivered to the local communities around the Shea trees, the women who constitute the “primary growers” who harvest from the snake infested forests during the season with nothing but their basins and bare hands.
Under current supply chain structures used by middlemen, traders and some producers, thousands of women are formed into cooperatives to secure supply of nuts for butter extraction, refining and fractionating facilities mainly established outside Nigeria.
The advocacy has also been shared with International Institutions, non-governmental organisations, relevant Civil Society organisations and government parastatals.
The NSSSDP has been on the road around the Shea tree zone since last year, training, educating and sensitizing the local populace.
Consultants are now available to guide farmers on how to comply with these important standards that would open the international market to them and Ecocert through Nicert is now able to conduct the inspection and auditing work that certification requires