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Nigeria Must Create More Products from Shea – Minister

By Yemi Akinsuyi

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, has called on stakeholders in the shea industry to ensure greater diversification of shea products so that producing countries can draw maximally from its benefits such as increased job creation and foreign exchange earnings, which will translate to enhanced well-being of the citizenry.

Abubakar made this call while delivering a keynote address during the 11th Annual International Shea Conference held recently in Abuja.

The conference was organised by the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) and National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPA), in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.

Abubakar pointed out that the shea industry has served as a means of livelihood to about 400 million of people, especially women and youths across shea producing and processing countries.

She added that shea export volume from producing countries especially, Africa has grown from over 350,000 metric tonnes per annum, which amount to about 600 percent increase compared to what it was 20 years ago.

This, according to her, has resulted in the annual income of over US$200 million for the shea producing countries.

The Minister noted that the acceptance of shea products in the USA and Europe as very important ingredients and raw materials for food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics underline the huge economic potentials of the industry.

She, therefore, charged the stakeholders to consider measures that will ensure that their shea products meet safety and quality requirements of the international market.

She urged them to seize the opportunity provided by the conference to form a common ground on the best approach to ensure the development of the sector.

She also suggested that all stakeholders should consider bringing a Shea Global Agenda specifically for the shea industry where a road-map towards the actualisation of their target will be drawn.

Wife of the Nigerian President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, who was represented by Hajiya Salima Makama, in her goodwill message, expressed happiness over the decision of the organisers to hold the conference in Nigeria, and pledged her support to them.

In his address, the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sanni Bello, who was represented by his deputy, said that his government is collaborating with development partners to empower its people in line with the Federal Government’s policy to encourage business linkages between Nigeria shea industry stakeholders and international buyers of the products.

Bello said this collaboration with partners like USAID has resulted in enhancement, training and the establishment of some cottage industries for shea and other high value products.

Bello added that the Niger State Government is in the vanguard of establishing shea butter villages, with four already functional, and an additional one established by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC).

The Governor added that talks were on with the NIPC for an initiative  to be tagged “Niger-Kebbi-Kwara (NKK)” to fast-track the development of shea butter value chain.

He stated that Nigeria, which is the largest producer of shea, accounting for 57 percent of Global Shea nuts production, derives the highest proportion of her nuts from Niger State.

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