The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL) has said that the country has the opportunity to earn as much as $500 million per season through proper production, packaging and processing of shea nuts.The agency said such realisation will be a major boost to the Federal Government’s economic diversification, which direction is more on the agriculture sector and its potential.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdul Hameed, also assured that production of Shea nut in Nigeria could be increased from the current 425,000 metric tonnes to one million metric tonnes.Hameed disclosed these yesterday in his address at the opening of the 12th International Shea Conference, organised by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in collaboration with the Global Shea Alliance, USAID and other stakeholders in Abuja.

He said challenges ranging from quality nut collection by women, storage and inability to properly process the nuts, as well as availability of funds must be properly addressed if above targets are to be met.

The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, said that government’s ability to tap the benefits from the sector depends on how well it will develop the capacity of stakeholders, especially women, to be able to produce highly competitive Shea butter and other products that meet the safety and quality requirements of the international market.

She explained that although Shea Butter is mostly found in the North Central axis of the country, ‘’the aforementioned anomalies bring us to the question of sustainability, which remains a critical aspect, as far as the development of the sector is concerned.”

According to her, for government to derive maximum benefit from the sector and ensure its continued sustenance, ‘’we all must develop our ability and capacity in creating diversified products from Shea and Shea products.

“In doing this, we must embrace continuous research and development in the sector towards the development of new and diversified products, improve value proposition, consistently engaging consumers, as well as evolving new marketing strategies, while consolidating on existing markets for Shea products’’.She charged the conference to come up with solutions to the various challenges facing the sector.

Source: guardian

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