Shea nuts ? a valuable natural resource in the North
Mr. Bede Ziedeng, the outgoing Upper West Regional Minister, has appealed to the World Food Programme (WFP) and other organisations to help sensitize men in the three northern regions to take up shea nut picking as a full time business.
He said the northern part of the country had been blessed with abundant shea trees which have big time economic value but due to the culture of the people, picking of the nuts have been left in the hands of the women alone who even do it on subsistence basis.
Mr. Ziedeng made the appeal when Mad Magdalena Owusu Moshi, Deputy Country Director of the World Food Programme, led a team to pay a courtesy call on him in Wa on Thursday.
Mr. Ziedeng, who is moving to the Northern Region, said culture coupled with the unrealized economic value of the shea tree had left about 70% of the nuts uncollected and therefore wasting in the bush.
He said sensitization of the men in these regions on the need to join hands with the women in picking the shea nuts was the only way they could ensure that every single nut was collected from the bush and sent to the market.
Mr. Ziedeng called on interested organisations to assist government to provide ready market for the product as this would encourage the people to see shea picking as an income generating activity not only meant for the women alone but also for the men.
He thanked WFP for supporting the government in the School Feeding Programme (SFP) especially in the Upper West Region, adding that there were challenges with coverage in the SFP but some of them had been addressed partly because of the support given by WFP.
Mr. Ziedeng again showed appreciation to the WFP for donating a pick-up vehicle to the Ghana Education Service (GES) in the region to enable them carry out an effective monitoring of the programme.
Mad Moshi said WFP also enjoyed their working relationship with the Regional Administration and was looking forward to having more so that they could work together to improve the lives of the people.
Mr. Aboubacar Koishe, Head of WFP Sub-Office in Tamale, said apart from supporting the SFP, WFP also provided support for the Ministry of Agriculture (MOFA) in the region to rehabilitate dams to facilitate all year round farming.
He said WFP also supported the Forestry Commission to plant trees and would also empower women to go into income generating activities through skills training programmes.