The National Shea Producers Association of Nigeria (NASPAN) has stated that converting about 100,000 metric tonnes of shea nuts to produce 48,000 metric tonnes of shea butter for export can generate more than $72 million for the Nigerian economy.
Indeed, the association added that the shea industry is enormous in Nigeria, but basically at its rudimentary stage and underdeveloped, calling for the need to deploy automative and mechanized processes to boost shea nuts production for export.
The president, NASPAN, Jibril Bokani, during an international shea conference in Lagos, tagged: ‘Unlocking market opportunities in the Nigerian shea value chain’ noted that Nigeria currently produces about 300,000 tonnes of shea nuts yearly making it the largest producer, but however stated that this volume is about 40 per cent of the sector’s real potential.
“Nigeria remains the lowest exporter of both shea nuts and shea butter. There exists a clear opportunity for Nigeria to create wealth and employment to be driven by value addition and export of shea butter and shea cake,” he said.
“At this point, it is our collective responsibility and a challenge on the federal government of Nigeria, its ministries and agencies, as well as development finance institutions and all other relevant stakeholders to develop the Nigeria shea industry to attain its rightful position as a global leader,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, the Deputy Chief of Party, Nigeria’s Export, Trade and Transport (NEXTT), Project, Isaac Adegun, said the conference is one of NEXTT project of USAID intervention in Nigeria to assist the Nigerian government to diversify its economic revenue base from crude oil to agriculture.
“Nigeria is an agrarian economy and we need to use our natural endowments to create jobs in order to reduce poverty in the country. We are here today to see how Nigeria can take advantage of the external market for shea butter and nuts to earn foreign exchange. Other nations are leveraging on this opportunity and making a lot of money.
If we could set up processing plants to add value to our shea nuts we can export abroad and apart from creating jobs, we will be able to increase our foreign exchange earnings to achieve economic growth and development,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria currently has only one processing plant in Oyo State jointly developed with the assistance of World Trade Organisation (WTO) in collaboration with the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), calling for more private and international investments to invest in processing plants in the country.
“We have invited lots of prospective investors and we hope they will be able to make viable investment decisions. I am sure with the high demand for shea butter and the propensity of earning foreign exchange, they will be convinced,” he said.