The Produce Buying Company (PBC) on Friday
signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sysgate Limited of Brazilian towards the establishment of a sheanut processing plant in the country.
The establishment of the plant, which is a brainchild of Vice President John Mahama, would allow for the export of sheabutter and help Ghana tap into
a fast expanding global shea trade projected to gross 500 million dollars per annum within the next five years.
The estimated market value of shea in Brazil alone is 40 million dollars per annum.
Vice President Mahama who witnessed the signing ceremony at the Castle, Osu, described the event as the “first conspicuous step” towards revamping the shea industry and make it a driving force in the accelerated development of the savannah area of Ghana.
He recounted government's decision to promote the shea trade as crucial in the socio-economic development of the northern parts of the country in order to optimize its value chain and promote improved rural livelihoods for women.
In this regard, he tasked the management of the two companies to speed-up the implementation of the proposals so as to make Ghana competitive in the global shea trade where it clearly has a comparative advantage.
The savannah belt of Ghana includes the three northern regions and some parts of the Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions.
Though the shea crop is widely available in these areas, the difficulty in harvesting the wild crop and the lack of processing facilities had negatively contributed towards the downturn of the industry, a situation government has been working to reverse.
Following his election as Vice President, Mr Mahama held a series of meetings with the management of COCOBOD, the parent company of PBC, towards revamping the industry as part of the proposed Savannah Accelerated Development Authority agenda.
The establishment of the plant would enable PBC process between 40 to 100,000 tonnes of nuts yearly.
Mr Anthony Osei Boakye, Managing Director of PBC, who initialled for his company, commended the Vice President for the leadership he provided towards reviving an industry, which he said, had been in the lull for the past nine years.
He gave the assurance that the PBC would work towards the stability and progress of the industry to ensure its long term sustainability.
Mr. William Mensah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of COCOBOD, corroborated Mr Boakye views, adding that the intervention of the Vice President enabled his outfit to resume the supply of protective clothing to the women who pick the fruits in the wild to boost production.
Mr. Luis Fernando Serra, Brazilian Ambassador who also witnessed the ceremony, tasked the two organisations to use the pact to demonstrate that it
is through fair and free trade, rather than aid that poverty could be significantly reduced.
Mr Serra promised to work towards integrating the economies of the two countries through the promotion of trade.
Mr Erickson Ferrer da Rosa, initialed for Sysgate.
According to the PBC, Sysgate was chosen, because of the company's expertise in providing a special technology to maximize yields from shea processing through the supply and installation of the equipment on turn-key basis.
The government, earlier this week, announced its intention to make the development of shea industry a priority in its national development agenda to help harness the resources in the savannah belt of Ghana for accelerated development.