By Sylvester Thompson
Dr Amina Bello, wife of Niger governor, has called for a strong alliance between the government and private sector to enhance the rapid progress of the Shea butter industry in Nigeria.
She made the call at an Agribusiness Networking (AgNet), event organised by Commodity Development Initiative (CDI), an NGO on Thursday in Abuja.
Bello, who is also the Chairperson of Northern Governors Wives Association and an advocate of the development of Shea sector, said that such alliance was the only way to move the sector forward.
She said that the setbacks experienced in the Shea sector were due to greedy profiteers within the sector.
“All the players within the sector, somehow, are the ones that come together and put the road blocks which is mostly about self-interest,’’ she said.
She said that only a strong alliance between the government and private sector would be the best way to address these problems.
The governor’s wife said that without such alliance, there was no way the industry would overcome its problems or make progress.
Bello, who is also a medical doctor said the challenge was how to get the government and private sector on the same page with the commitment from both sides.
She said that in the alliance, the private sector should not put profit ahead of every other thing and government needed to look at individuals willing to work for the benefit of the state.
Bello said that for optimal performance, the Shea sector had to be private sector driven with government support and commitment.
The first lady said that the Shea sector in the country was dominated by private people who were doing the work and earning the money.
She urged state governments to exploit the Shea sector, make money and increase their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Mr Roland Oroh, the Director, the Nigeria Agribusiness Register said that the primary focus of the register was to facilitate investments into agribusiness in Nigeria.
He said there was need for more investment in the Nigeria agriculture.
“Our target is to facilitate 3.4 billion dollars of investment into the 15 value chain,’’ he said.
Oroh said that the value chains covered aquaculture, rice, yam, maize, sesame seed, groundnut, coconut, cashew, cotton etc.
He said through the registration, agribusiness could be tracking the production, processing trend just like having a data base.
The director said that attracting high quality agribusiness investment was critical for achieving success of the agricultural promotion policy of the Federal Government.
Oroh, who presented some of their products said that more products would be coming up to attract foreign investors to the country.
He said the AgNet started in March, adding that the month of June was focused on Shea butter since rice sector was done in preceding months.
He disclosed that Nigeria has the highest Shea butter trees in the world but that, “our hold on the global Shea butter market is not encouraging’’.
While presenting statistics, Oroh said that Nigeria needed to maximize its potential.
He further said that there was need for awareness on the economic value of Shea butter trees at the grass root to avoid indiscriminate falling and cutting of the trees.
Mrs Zainab Aliyu, the Director-General, Niger Delta Export Promotion Council said that Shea nut grows in about 21 countries in the world which are all in Africa.
She said the total Shea nut production in Africa was estimated at over 2.5million pairs of dry kennel per annum.
The director-general said that Nigeria produces about 330 tonnes of Shea nut per annum in West Africa, making it the highest producer of Shea nut and butter in West Africa.
Aliyu said that from statistics, Niger state boast of controlling about 54 per cent of the Shea trees in Nigeria and turn out more than 325,000 metric tonnes of Shea butter which is exported from Nigeria annually.
She said the present administration in Niger state had initiated projects to facilitate the Shea butter industry.
The director-general said the projects was to include establishment of Shea butter market, use of standard technology, equipment for processing and a law prohibiting falling of Shea trees among others.