The federal government has said that it was not leaving any stone unturned in its quest to develop the shea sector especially considering its numerous benefits, to individuals, companies and the national economy. To this end, it disclosed that it was working with stakeholders in the shea value chain to ensure a robust shea commodities export sector. Permanent secretary, ministry, industry, trade and investment, Mr Edet Akpan , gave this assurance while addressing participants to the 11th International Shea Conference in Abuja. Apkan said government was aware of the benefits derivable from the sector and assured that it was committed to building the capacity of those involved in the shea value chain to produce high quality shea butter for domestic and foreign markets.
While noting that 25,000 metric tons of shea nuts are produced every year, Akpan said government was very much interested in the outcomes of the conference for onward implementation and therefore encouraged would-be investors in the industry to take advantage of the high quality shea nuts produced in the country. Stating that Nigeria would continue to double efforts to create a very conducive environment for everybody, Apkan said the Buhari-led administration was committed to the diversification of the country’s economy and therefore challenged participants to the conference to deliberate and agree on common grounds towards the development of the shea sector.
Also speaking on the sidelines of the event, the deputy governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, said the state government was harnessing the production of shea in and around the state; a move he added would ensure there was quality acceptable in the international market. “Initially, everyone produced from their locations and then bring to the market but right now, we are harmonising it in such a way that they can produce it in a factory. “We are presently doing this in Kebbi, Kwara and Niger States so as to have a satisfied recognition globally. After the conference, the take home for us is to go back and harness with our stakeholders to formulate an action template for future purposes,” he said.
Concurring, an exhibitor from Benue State and CEO Oracle Star Sheabutter, Mr Gwar Samuel, noted that the demand for shea butter at the international arena was very high but Nigerian exporters have the challenge of quality and poor level of mechanisation needed for optimum production. “Shea butter has standard and a process of processing, most times our products are returned to us due to lack of quality but if we have the machineries to produce at international quality, we can compete,” he said. President of National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN),Jibril Bokani, also complained of the inconsistency in the quality of shea products produced in the country. “There is no uniformity and Nigeria is vast. Niger State is doing its best in shea. We need other collaboration from other shea producing states. “Without uniform in quality across board, there are serious challenges. We want all the Shea producing states to be involved. We have only three to four states in the country that are serious with Shea production