The Federal government has addressed acceptable modalities and possible ways of ensuring better post-harvest in Shea production.
These modalities were discussed at the two-day Shea capacity building/training on best practices in post-harvest handling of Shea held in Minna, Niger state.
Speaking in his opening address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, said that the laid down modalities will ensure domestication of Shea seedlings, processing and packaging of Shea products to meet international standards.
Nanono also noted that these practices will also address the problems of the industry along the supply chain to meet international standard.
The minister who was represented by the Deputy Director of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Mr Bernard Ukattah, noted that the training which was held from 15th – 16th December, is coming at a very crucial moment of some countries recovery from COVID -19 pandemic.
‘’With this administration seeking to reposition the economy, through addressing issues of poverty, unemployment, insecurity and most especially diversification of the economy from total dependence on oil to non-oil driven economy, we cannot over emphasize the need to create awareness and improve the technical know-how of Shea Butter farmers, pickers, processors and marketers on improved postharvest handling of Shea products to meet international standards,’’ he said.
He stressed the need to diversify our economy away from oil, reduce the current drain on our foreign reserve from food importation while expanding new income sources from exports of agricultural produces/products, such as Shea.
‘’This is the reason Shea Value Chain is among priority commodity value chains being promoted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in tandem with ideals of this Administration of President, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to make agriculture a top priority on the on-going green alternative.
‘’We must cash in on this and change our mind set on agriculture.
‘’Nigeria is the largest producer of Shea nuts in Africa and the world at large, followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo. It has about 5 million hectares of Shea trees, but all are in the wild. The West African production of Shea nut is estimated at 600,000mt which is based on traded volume.
‘’Not adding value to this commodity locally is costing Nigeria huge losses in form of foreign exchange earnings and exportation of Shea products.
‘’Compared to the cosmetics industry, however, processed Shea butter is more prevalently used in the food industry, taking up 90% of total production. Most of the Shea nuts in Nigeria are exported, with only about 20% of the products consumed domestically. The quantity available greatly depends on large conglomerates in the market that purchase almost 50% of the total volume,’’ Nanono added.
He urged that the training exercise should be key element in the strategies aimed at ensuring that Shea farmers do not just adopt practices (GAP) in their pursuit for global competence in Shea Butter production, but to provide a critical view of the Shea Value Chain in Nigeria, outlining the challenges, identifying recent interventions and proffering solutions towards increased wealth creation through Shea processing.
Also, the Assistant Director of the Nigeria Institute for Oil Palm Research, Dr. Musa Ibrahim Koloche, in his lecture on best practices for picking/collection of shea fruits/nuts and production of quality shea kernels described picking/collection of shea fruits as an act of collecting of matured ripped and wind fall fruits/nuts on the ground of the Shea trees for domestic and industrial purposes.
He further outlined that picking, de-pulping, parboiling, washing and drying are ethical/ideal steps for picking or collection of shea fruits and nuts as well as production of quality shea kernels.
Others steps include: De-husking, threshing/Winnowing, drying, sorting and grading, bagging, storage and triage.