Three hundred and twelve members of the Buli Women Sheanut Pickers and Producers Association in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region are being trained in quality sheabutter production to meet international market standards to boost their incomes.
The Church of Pentecost at Lassia-Tuolo is organizing the women groups in the communities to undertake the training as part of its social responsibility to enhance the livelihoods of the people.
The Wa West District is endowed with the shea trees and the women had been using traditional methods in processing the butter resulting in its low standards, a situation that had affected the export of the product.
The women are expected to produce 36,000 kilos (36 tonnes) of sheabutter in a year using the appropriate production techniques under hygienic conditions.
The lack of credit facility, equipment and other logistic support could affect production levels.
Pastor Frank Awuah Fordjour, District Overseer of the Church said the United States Embassy had provided the Church with 11,000 Ghana Cedis from its Ambassador Special Help Initiative programme to put up a house and equipped it with a grinding mill for the women to undertake sheabutter production.
He said when he came to the community, he realised that the women in the area were handicapped and less endowed even though they were producing sheabutter in smaller quantities for the local market.
Pastor Fordjour said this made the church appeal for assistance from JICA, Africa 2000 and Chapter 58 Trust, all non governmental organisations for funds to improve the skills of the women in sheabutter production to reduce poverty.
He called on the district assembly and benevolent organisations to support the women with funds to purchase the sheanuts from local markets to sustain production.
Mr. Ross Nytton of the Chapter 58 Trust said his NGO would look for markets for the product at the international world market for the association to export the commodity.
He said sheabutter had become a popular commodity at the international market as it was now used by medical and cosmetic industries to make various products.
Madam Safia Alhassan, trainer of the women said Africa 2000 had been building the capacity of women groups that were into sheabutter production, providing them appropriate production techniques to produce quality butter for international markets.
Madam Cynthia Tuormah, Secretary of the Buli Women Sheanut Pickers and Producers Association mentioned lack of finances, equipment and market for the product as some of the challenges facing the association.