Experts on Wednesday in Abuja said that the export of processed Shea butter could boost Nigeria’s non-oil earnings by two billion dollars annually.
They gave the figure at a briefing on the forthcoming 6th International Shea Industry Conference organised by the Global Shea Alliance (GSA).
The Global Shea Alliance is the coordinating body for the development of the shea butter industry worldwide.
The conference is an annual gathering of producers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers and other stakeholders in the shea butter industry.?
Mr Mohammed Kontagora, who is the Director-General of the Niger State Commodity and Export Promotion Agency and a member of GSA said that Nigeria’s potential in the sector was largely untapped.
He said that Nigeria, which presently accounts for 57 per cent of the global shea value put at about four billion dollars, could address its challenge of poverty through shea butter export.
“Nigeria stands a better chance of improving its economy through the processing and sale of shea butter.
“The current global shea value stands at more than 3.8 billion dollars and Nigeria is said to contribute about 57 per cent of the global shea value, that is about 2 billion dollars additional revenue.
“Shea butter has the potential to eradicate poverty, this is the sector I believe we all have to go back to,” he said.
Kontagora said that there was no other genuine means of enhancing the rural economies of communities that had comparative advantage in shea butter production.
He added that there was no better option to rural women empowerment than in the promotion of shea butter as a food and cosmetic product.
On the export capacity of Nigeria, the DG said that more than 50,000 tonnes of the product could be exported from the country per year.
He, however, bemoaned the lack of adequate statistics on shea butter production, noting that it was one of the factors militating against the development of the sector in Nigeria.
?Earlier in her address, the President of alliance, Mrs Eugenia Akuete, solicited the support of government and other stakeholders for the development of the sector in Nigeria.
She said that the growth of the sector could empower more women to contribute to the wellbeing of the families and those of their local communities.
“Women collect nuts across the Savannah area stretching from Senegal to Uganda and South Sudan.
“Millions of women make shea butter that millions more in West Africa consume daily in food and skin care products.
“The Shea has tremendous impact on local economies, for every one dollar of shea exported, local villages receive an additional 50 per cent of income,” she said.
On her part, an executive committee member of the alliance, Mrs Salima Makama, pleaded for support and publicity for the forthcoming conference.
She said that the conference would create opportunities for Nigeria and Africa to develop the local shea butter industry and open new economic opportunities for its citizens.
Makama urged states with comparative advantage in shea butter production to take a cue from the Niger State Government’s shea development road map.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2013 Shea Butter International Conference will hold between March 4 and March 6 in Abuja. ?