The 12th Annual International Conference on Shea, which will bring together all business associates and shea interest groups around the world to share latest information, is to be held in Accra, from March 11 to March 13.
This year’s event, which will be on the theme: ‘Unveiling the value of shea’, will offer opportunities for showcasing recent products and technologies in shea and create the platform to network and connect stakeholders in the shea value chain.
It is being hosted and jointly organised by the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) and Shea Network Ghana (SNG), with support from the EXIM Bank Ghana.
Mr Zakaria Iddi, National Coordinator of SNG, who spoke during the launch of the event in Tamale on Tuesday, said the selection of the country to host the event for the fourth time was not surprising as the country was a major player in the world as far as shea was concerned.
He said shea had become an important cash crop that required national attention adding, “For the rest of our generations to come, shea will continue to have greater impact on the income security of rural women in particular and the sector’s key challenges need attention and policy action”.
He, therefore, called on government to list shea under the Economic Plants Protection Act NRCD 47, which currently applied to only cocoa, to guarantee incentives and compensation to rural women in communities whose economic shea trees were cut down to give way for government projects.
Mr Iddi called on government to set up a dedicated shea board to holistically support the shea sector to unearth its full potentials to boost the income of rural women shea pickers as well as earn increased foreign exchange.
Mr Prince Obeng, Executive Council Member, GSA said annual exports of shea from the country in 2016 stood at 59,500 metric tons, which were equivalent to $17 million direct incomes for women shea collectors and eight million dollars for their communities.
Mr Obeng, who is also Board Chairman of SNG, said over 28,000 women were trained in shea processing while about 600,000 women were engaged in the shea value chain to earn incomes.
He appealed to all to avoid bushfires as well as felling of the shea trees for burning charcoal to protect the trees.
Mrs Mariam Iddrisu, Municipal Chief Executive for Sagnarigu assured of government’s commitment to developing the shea sector, adding, that was why it opened a shea operational secretariat in Tamale.
She commended stakeholders for their continued commitment to promoting the shea industry in the country.
Mr Bright Evans Darko, Head, Business Development and Projects, EXIM Bank Ghana expressed the commitment of the bank to increasing the capacity of women shea collectors through provision of equipment amongst others to improve their operations.