The government would build two new shea butter processing factories in the Upper East and Upper West Regions, President John Dramani Mahama has announced.
He explained that the two factories in addition to the existing one in Buipe in the Gonja Central District of the Northern Region would help to add value to the processing of shea nuts in the country.
President Mahama announced this when he addressed members of the Global Shea Alliance in their three-day ninth international conference in Accra, Ghana.
Participants are drawn from Ghana, Senegal, Guniea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The Global Shea Alliance (GSA) is a non- profit industry association with 390 members from 30 countries including women’s groups, brands and retailers, suppliers and non-governmental organizations.
Through public-private partnerships, the GSA promotes industry, sustainability, quality practices and standards and demand for shea in food and cosmetics.
President Mahama said the Ghana Living Standard Survey had indicated that women, especially those in rural northern Ghana were the poorest and the only way to reverse the trend was through initiatives with shea nuts and other workable measures.
He said although the introduction of producer prices for shea nuts demanded collective efforts from member states, his administration would continue to push for better deals for the Ghanaian women to live decent lives through the commodity.
President Mahama also gave the assurance that government would work around the clock to eliminate the numerous middlemen that operated within the processing stage of the crop, leaving the women at the mercy of hazardous conditions during the picking levels.
The middlemen, he added were depriving the women of a chunk of the fruit of their labour as the long chains dwindled their fortunes.
Mr Moumouni Konate, President of GSA, said this year’s workshops would discuss the role of the Shea industry including women empowerment, nutrition, income, parkland, biodiversity, and environment conservation.
He said nearly two billion Shea trees grow naturally on parklands in 21 countries stretching from Senegal to South Sudan.
He said 16 million women living in rural communities individually collect the fresh fruits and the kernel, which they processed to extract a healthy vegetable oil known as shea butter.
Mr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Minister for Trade and Industry, commended the leadership of GSA for organizing such important conferences to promote the usefulness of Shea in different values.
He pledged to offer all the necessary support that would empower the Association to step up its penetration into the international markets.
Mr Bukari Tijani, Assistant Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization, gave the assurance that his outfit would support all programmes that would be harnessed under Shea to empower women.
He encouraged women to take advantage of the opportunity at all levels of the process to enrich themselves.
William Hanna, European Union Ambassador to Ghana, said Africa had a lot to achieve in shea processing and urged the Association to make policies that would protect their markets within their countries and at the international levels.