By Franca Ofili
The Federal Government says a policy document on Shea butter production will create more jobs and increase exportation of the product.
Mr Sunday Akpan, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, said this in Abuja on Monday.
Akpan, who was represented by the Director, Department of Commodity Produce and Inspectorate (CPI) Mrs Omololu Ope-Ewe, said this during the presentation of the draft policy document on shea butter.
He said that Federal Government was working towards ensuring that Nigeria stopped the importation of Shea-based products like vegetable oil, soap and other cosmetics.
“The country will build a virile Shea hub which takes us to a point where we will be exporting high quality Shea butter and other products instead of exporting the raw nut which yields close to nothing.
“The policy will enable thousands of Nigerians to find new opportunities in Shea business and engage millions in both direct and indirect jobs for wealth creation,’’ Akpan said.
According to him, the country must evolve new strategies towards gaining market access for Shea products.
He said that Nigeria needed to agree on the right method and process that would attract and stimulate new and sustainable investment in the Shea sector.
Akpan said that the National Shea Policy would guide, regulate, protect and support stakeholders in the sector.
“Nigeria accounts for about 57 per cent of global Shea supply, producing about 400,000 metric tonnes annually.
“It is, however, disturbing that more than half of the total quantity produced is unaccounted for owing to poor post-harvest handling.
“Others are lack of modern processing equipment, low investment, lack of innovation, research and development.
Ope-Ewe, who was also represented by Mr Napoleon Abalaka, Deputy Director, Commodities and Products Inspectorate Department, said the challenges of the sector had been non improvement on production and processing methods.
She further listed other challenges as credit for expansion and handicap in producing high quality products for global export.
She said that the document would encourage investors who would be willing to put their hard earned monies in the sector.
Ope-Ewe said most investors were not willing to invest in the sector because of the absence of a protective mechanism and safety net that would meet their expectation in Return on Investment (ROI).
Mrs Funmi Ilamah, from Management Strategy Advisory Ltd, in a presentation of the draft document, said Nigeria lacked a solid structure and plantation to boost the sector.
According to Ilamah, the country produces 75 per cent of Shea while it exports only 10 per cent of it.
She said the sector was faced with issues like lack of domestication and cultivation of Shea trees in Nigeria.
She therefore advocated for improvement on the production of Shea through research and development of resource management. (NAN)