In its drive to boost export competitiveness of the shea products, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has empowered shea butter farmers, processors and sellers at a one-day workshop in Plateau state.
Speaking at the event on Wednesday, in Jos, Mrs Nonye Ayeni, Executive Director, NEPC, said that the product’s value was estimated to reach $3.5billion by the year 2028.
Ayeni, therefore, urged all relevant stakeholders to join hands with the council to place Nigeria on the product’s global map.
She emphasised the need to avoid burning of shea trees, which posed one of the major threats to the commodity’s growth and expansion in Nigeria.
In her words: “According to Transparency Market Research, the global Shea butter market is expected to reach a value of US$ 3.5 billion by the end of 2028, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 5.2 per cent over the forecast period.
“One expected outcome of today’s event is to identify actionable measures to optimise Nigeria’s potential to enter the international shea butter trade.
“Nigeria is estimated to be hosting more than 60 per cent of the shea trees but has failed to harness its full potential to enter the global market.
“There is a need to address the indiscriminate felling of shea trees for firewood in the forests.
“We therefore, call on value chain influencers like international and domestic NGOs, and development agencies to partner with us in changing the narrative.”
On his part, Mr Samson Idowu, the North-Central Coordinator of the Council noted that though Plateau was blessed with abundance of the commodity, it was yet to maximise the product’s potential.
Idowu, therefore, urged participants to note the importance of the commodity, its market value and join hands to boost the “Export for Survival Campaign” of the Federal Government.
“Shea is mostly sourced in the middle belt region of the country and Plateau is one of the producing states, unfortunately very little of processing is done on it and export is almost zero.
“It is our belief that a shea product by its potentials is cash-generating that should be targeted for intensive development and promotion, which in turn increases Nigeria’s share of the world demand in line with the zero-oil plan of the Council.
“The Council considers it imperative to call together all relevant stakeholders on the need to set in motion actions toward stimulating increase processing/output in line with international best practices and improve the export performance of the sub-sector.
“This is in view of the obvious economic benefits to the state in particular and the nation at large,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Gabriel Goni, Chairman, National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN) urged government and other relevant stakeholders to increase awareness on the product, its business potentials and the employment opportunities.
“We call on the government, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders for more programmes like we are having now organised by NEPC.
“They should create more awareness of the product and its potential, and provide training on the practical aspects of the profession,” he said.
Goni pointed out the need for the support for youth and women in the rural communities who usually collect Shea nuts and process them to generate revenue.
“This will go a very long way to empower the women and the youths in our localities,” he said.
Present at the workshop were stakeholders from the export, banking, agriculture, commerce and other related sectors.