Speaking at a briefing on the forthcoming 6th International Shea Industry Conference organised by the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), experts have revealed that Nigeria’s largely untapped Shea butter market can yield $2 billion annually.
The Global Shea Alliance is the coordinating body for the development of the shea butter industry worldwide. The conference is an annual gathering of producers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers and other stakeholders in the shea butter industry.
Director-General of the Niger State Commodity and Export Promotion Agency and a member of GSA, Mohammed Kontagora said Nigeria, which presently accounts for 57 percent of the global shea with a value of $3.8 billion, could address its challenge of poverty through shea butter export.
By developing the large-scale production of shea butter in Nigeria, Kontagora noted that the country would be on the right path to diversifying the economy through strategic focus on the commodity’s export business.
“Nigeria stands a better chance of improving its economy through the processing and sale of shea butter.”
“The current global shea value stands at more than 3.8 billion dollars and Nigeria is said to contribute about 57 per cent of the global shea value, that is about $2 billion additional revenue.”
Kontagora believes that one way to improve rural economies of communities is to take comparative advantage in shea butter production by promoting shea butter as a food and cosmetic product.
He pointed out that the recent directive by the European Union that 5 percent of Shea must be added to all confectionaries particularly chocolate in the zone could effectively upscale the profile of the commodity’s business.
“Shea butter has the potential to eradicate poverty, this is the sector I believe we all have to go back to,” he said.
While Kontagora asserts that more than 50,000 tonnes of the product could be exported from the country per year, he lamented that the lack of adequate statistics on shea butter production is one of the factors militating against the development of the sector in Nigeria.
He also noted that the country looses most of the financial benefits that should come to the country as a result of the smuggling of the produce. He said about $2.166 billion, (N335.73 billion) revenue in excise duties is lost yearly by the Federal Government to illegal exportation of shea butter commodity out of the country.
The DG disclosed that at least 50 trailers carry shea butter and its derivatives cross the Nigerian border daily to Benin Republic from the Niger state alone, while Nigeria’s Customs Service appear unable to check smuggling activities.
Meanwhile, President of Global Shea Alliance, Eugenia Akuete, in her address, said that increase in the country’s shea butter production could empower more women to contribute to the wellbeing of the families and those of their local communities.
She noted that “Women collect nuts across the Savannah area stretching from Senegal to Uganda and South Sudan.”
“Millions of women make shea butter that millions more in West Africa consume daily in food and skin care products. The Shea has tremendous impact on local economies, for every one dollar of shea exported, local villages receive an additional 50 per cent of income,” she said.
She urged government and other stakeholders for the development of the sector in Nigeria.
The 2013 Shea Butter International Conference will hold between March 4th – 6th in Abuja.