Ghana — Bush fires are threatening the shea nut sector which could directly affect the livelihoods of 70 percent of women in the Upper East region, according to a northern farming cooperative.
Absence of a guaranteed price for the nuts, transportation challenges, storage of shea nuts and training on picking and drying of the produce also affect the profits women can make from producing shea butter, according to Mr Augustine Ambotimah, the coordinator of the Nadowli District Cooperative Multie-Purpose Farmers and Marketing Society Limited. He was speaking at a meeting of organisations involved in the shea industry which was sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy (BUSAC) Fund.
He said that the absence of regulation and legislation in the industry also afffected the growth and economic potential of the sector.
“The lack of guaranteed price for shea nuts affects poor women’s financial secuurity and the non-enforcement of bush fire bye-laws threatens the livelihood of about 70 per cent of women in the Upper West Region due to indiscriminate burning of vegetation which continues to stifle the growth and fruiting capacity of the trees,” he said.
Mr Ambotimah said research institutions should also conduct studies into the the sustainability of the industry.
A service provider attending the meeting, Mr Gabriel Fiatui, called for a deepening of community sensitisation and awareness creation of the shea nut as a resource.
He also said there should an increase in the shea stock in Ghana in the next five to ten years.
Mr Fiatui also expressed his dissatisfaction at middlemen who offered low prices for the commodity and called on the Ghana Shea Board to do more to eliminate the practice.
The group commended the government for establishing shea nut factories in spite of the challenges the sector faces.