The Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has said that the country is currently losing huge foreign exchange due to its inability to add value to Shea Butter production.
Nigeria is the largest producer of Shea nuts in Africa and the world at large, followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo. Nigeria has about 5 million hectares of Shea trees in the wild.
Speaking during a 2 day Shea Capacity Building/Training on best practices in post-harvest handling of Shea, the Minister was represented by the Deputy Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mr Bernard Ukattah, said Shea butter has been added to the priority value chains promoted by the Ministry.
“Nigeria is the largest producer of Shea nuts in Africa and the world at large, followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo. It has about 5 million hectares of Shea trees, but all are in the wild.
“The West African production of Shea nut is estimated at 600,000mt which is based on traded volume.
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“Not adding value to this commodity locally is costing Nigeria huge losses in form of foreign exchange earnings and exportation of Shea products.
“Compared to the cosmetics industry, however, processed Shea butter is more prevalently used in the food industry, taking up 90 per cent of total production.
“Most of the Shea nuts in Nigeria are exported, with only about 20 per cent of the products consumed domestically. The quantity available greatly depends on large conglomerates in the market that purchase almost 50% of the total volume”, he said.
Furthermore, he said the “training exercise is a key element in the strategies aimed at ensuring that Shea farmers do not just adopt good agricultural practices in their pursuit for global competence in Shea Butter production but to provide a critical view of the Shea Value Chain in Nigeria.
“One of the critical discussions of this meeting will be the domestication of the Shea tree reducing the gestation period to about 3 years and also laying emphasis on the packaging of Shea products and its value addition.”