Shea Network Ghana (SNG) has called on government to seriously consider decoupling the shea sector and its entire value chain from the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) in order to give it the needed attention it deserves for growth.
The Ghana Cocoa Board Act, Act 84 of 1981, puts Cocoa, Coffee and shea under one umbrella with equal opportunities, but cocoa has dominated the economy as a cash crop because of the attention and commitment governments have given to the crop over years.
But the shea sector embedded under COCOBOD, SNG observes, makes it difficult for the sector to get the much needed attention from government and investors.
National Coordinator of SNG Zakaria Iddi, said this during a two-day training workshop organised by SNG to enhance the knowledge of selected journalists across the country on the shea industry and also expose them to the challenges militating against the industry’s smooth growth.
Mr. Iddi believes decoupling the shea sector from COCOBOD would go a long way to increase the investment opportunities the crop deserve as well as enhance the sector’s development potential and the entire value chain.
|Mr. Zakaria Iddi|
He explained that private sector market forces usually determine the prices of shea products whereas that of Cocoa and Coffee are determined by government, making them economically valuable than the shea.
According to him, shea nuts have the potential to address poverty in the north and said that it was high time governments stopped paying lip service to the sector and start to act by giving it the needed attention to grow like the cocoa sector.
“Cocoa and shea are quite different and need different agencies and strategies to deal with their issues. Putting shea under Ghana Cocoa Board makes the sector to retrogress”, he said.
The shea industry engages over 900,000 people mainly women and according to Shea Network Ghana, the sector can still engage more if the government heeds the call of stakeholders to decouple it from COCOBOD.
Shea butter has been found to have a fat composition similar to cocoa butter, and is used as a substitute for lard or margarine because it makes dough highly pliable.
Meanwhile, SNG is a civil society organization made up of shea actors along the value chain, and envisions a shea industry in which there are increased equitable benefits for all actors along the entire value chain.
Formed in 2010 through multi-stakeholder actions of producers, non-governmental organizations and government agencies, SNG among other things seeks to build and share information and experiences on the shea industry; provide an equitable space for engagements/discussions among shea sector stakeholders in a coordinated way; and contribute to shaping and sustaining a supportive policy and business environment.