Members of the Ojoba Women Shea Butter Processing Association has called on the government to address fleecing of the locals by middlemen and also partner them to establish a shea butter processing factory in the Soe community at Bongo in the Upper East Region.
Secretary to the group, Gifty Atiah, said it would be prudent for the government to establish a factory leveraging on the resources of the organised association under the 1-District-1-Factory (1D1F) project to improve on the livelihoods of the female producers.
She lamented the poor prices they are offered.
She said middlemen buy the processed shea butter from them as low as GHS12 per kilogramme which the middlemen sell at higher prices to gain more profit at the detriment of the local producers.
In this vein, Ms Atiah advocated a market where producers will be offered the worth of processed shea butter after the laborious processes of picking, crushing, roasting, grinding and cooking of the shea nuts.
“It is difficult getting it at GHS20 [the highest price]. At the moment it is GHS15 per kilo…There are situations they (buyers) come and then want it for GHS12, GHS13,” she explained in an interview with ClassFMonline.com.
Shea butter is an important raw material in the manufacture of skin products, confectionery and pharmaceutical products, among others.
The gathering of shea nuts for processing into shea butter by women has been the main source of income for thousands of households in rural areas of the North where shea trees thrive.
A study on the technological changes in shea butter production in some districts in the Upper East Region and how processing could further be improved showed that shea butter processors need improvement in the areas of picking of the nuts, cooking the shea kernels, beating of the shea paste and packaging.
Ms Atiah had earlier told Derrick Abakisi, Class FM’s Upper East Regional Correspondent that: “For the women involved in the shea nut and shea butter production, there is an issue of access to markets. Although the shea nut industry has potential, the women are not benefiting from it. It is important to assist them to access better markets and improve incomes and livelihoods”.
The Ojoba Women Shea Butter Processing Association which was started about 20 years ago consists of 400 women from the Bongo district who are into shea butter processing for sale locally and for export.
Ms Atiah added that the group produces about two tonnes of shea butter in a month and can produce more if the market cycle was efficient.
She said this when the Balansa Women Shea Butter Processing group took a study tour of their facility to learn new and improved ways of shea butter processing.