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17.02.2006 Regional News

Government urged to come out with policy on sheanut


Tamale, Feb. 17, GNA - The government has been urged to come out with a clear-cut policy to promote the sheanut industry to reduce rural poverty among the people in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.

Madam Anna-Maria Fati Paul, Acting Director of Tung-Teiya Shea Butter Extraction Women's Association (TUSEWA), a Tamale based NGO who made the called said currently, there was no government policy that promoted shea butter production and this had left many women jobless, thereby perpetuating excessive poverty in Northern Ghana. She said there was enough production of shea butter in the three regions without sufficient market while some community members were also destroying the shea trees for charcoal use and through bush fires. Madam Paul was briefing journalists on the development of the sheanut industry at a day's forum in Tamale on Thursday aimed at deepening their understanding on issues affecting the development of the industry.

She said sheanut picking and shea butter processing had become very common business in the rural communities and therefore if much attention was given to it, it would help the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) to achieve its objectives.

TUSEWA is operating in 11 communities with a membership of 400 women engaged in shea butter extraction for export. The Northern Ghana Community Action Fund (NOGCAF) is financing the Association, while the Business Sector Advocacy Challenged (BUSAC) Fund is supporting it to undertake its advocacy programme on the development of the sheanut industry.

Madam Paul announced that the Association would embarked on an eight-month advocacy action aimed to influence the government to pay special attention to the sheanut industry by coming out with initiatives and policies geared towards the development of the industry. "As it is now, there is poor market for the butter, lack of good management of the shea trees and low level of awareness of the importance of the shea nut industry and as such more rural women are jobless", she said, adding: "Even though the prospects are bright the challenges facing the industry are enormous".

Madam Paul said with the establishment of the Association in 1995, it had been able to secure good market for its members, provide grinding mills for community women's groups and social amenities, such as health and educational facilities to communities in its operational areas. "This has helped to empower the women economically and socially to increase school enrolment and retention of children in basic school in the communities and improve the living conditions of the people", she said.

Dr Joshua Adam Yidana, a researcher and lecturer at the University for Development Studies (UDS), who supported the advocacy action with his research work in the sheanut industry over the years, said the three Northern Regions produce 95 per cent of the total sheanuts production in the country with Eastern and Volta Regions accounting for the remaining five per cent.

He said total tree population of the shea was about 9.4 million while quantity of sheanut collected was 60 percent and 25 percent exported as butter. 17 Feb. 06