Vice President John Mahama commissioning the new sheanut factory
A sheanut processing factory has been opened in Buipe in the Northern region to create employment and income for the unemployed in the area.
The factory, which has the capacity to process 40,000 tonnes of sheanuts, is projected to generate over $30 million.
Vice President John Mahama commissioned the factory which is the first of three factories to be set up in the Northern region, and it is expected to provide jobs to thousands of workers.
“This facility will change the lives of the people of Buipe,” said Mr. Mahama.
“The management of the factory is not just building a factory, they are building a community. There is going to be accommodation for staff, hospitality facility, there is going to be a guest house…”
The Buipe community, Vice President Mahama observed, has the potential to become the industrial hub of the Northern region.
Shea trees abound in the northern part of Ghana and serve as the main source of income for a large portion of the population.
Sheanut, which is collected from wild trees, serves as the main source of income for most women in the Northern parts of the country.
It is estimated that there are over 600,000 women in Ghana who collect and trade in sheanuts.
Until recently, between 20 and 30 hours of labour and up to 10 kilogrammes of firewood was used to process a kilogramme of sheabutter by individuals and groups.
The shea nuts or butter is bought by nut buyers at very cheap prices and exported.
The finished products are later imported into the country by merchants who sell them at higher prices. Almost 90 percent of the nuts are sold unprocessed to cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries who convert them into cosmetics and moisturizers.
A research conducted in the sheanut sector and sponsored by Oxfam International indicates that Ghana exports about 60,000 metric tonnes of the nuts every year worth $30 million though this could be increased to 130,000 tonnes.
According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, shea nuts and butter exports across the world were estimated at $120 million in 2010.
Ghana, which sells its nuts to Europe, the U.S and Japan, earns a quarter of this amount annually.
Business Desk Report