Veep Inaugurates Sheanut Factory At Buipe
A GH¢30 million shea processing factory to produce 12,000 tons of shea butter yearly has been inaugurated by the Vice-President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, at Buipe in the Central Gonja District of the Northern Region.
The factory will buy shea nuts from pickers in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, and parts of Brong Ahafo, Volta and Ashanti Regions and produce quality butter with a low free fatty acid, water and impurities content, but high in kernel fat.
The second phase of the project will see the factory further processing and refining the crude butter to produce clean, stearin and other derivatives which attract higher premium prices.
Initiated by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), the factory is wholly owned by the Produce Buying Company (PBC) Limited. The processing plant for the PBC Shea Limited was procured from Brazil. Arrangement has already been made to sell the shea butter in Brazil.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by the Northern Regional Minister, Mr. Moses Mabengba, the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Mark Wayongo, the Upper West Regional Minister, Alhaji Hamidu Seidu, District Chief Executives and traditional rulers.
Inaugurating the project, the Vice-President said the establishment of the shea processing factory was part of the fulfillment of President John Evans Atta Mills’s 2008 campaign promise to improve the lives of shea nut pickers in the SADA regions.
He said the project was part of the SADA initiatives to change the lives of the people in the SADA ecological zone, particularly, women who pick shea nuts.
“The government decided to intervene in the shea industry because it can improve the income of the poorest people in the country”, he stressed.
Mr. Mahama said the government had already set up the Shea Steering Committee to facilitate the establishment of a Shea Board and had fixed the floor price of shea at GH¢32, being the minimum price that buyers can pay for a bag of shea nut.
He said only 30 percent of shea nut were picked annually while the remaining either got rotten or burnt down by bushfire.
He, therefore, said with the establishment of the shea-processing factory, the PBC would ‘’revitalise the shea nut societies by providing the women pickers with gloves, wellington boots and tricycles to protect them against attacks and facilitate their work.
The Vice president said the factory would collect about 50 percent of the shea nuts, and guarantee improved prices for the pickers and farmers.
“We can process half of the shea nuts produced into butter instead of exporting the raw nuts,” he said.
The Managing Director of PBC Shea Limited, Mr. Kojo Atta-Krah, said Buipe was at a central position that made it easier for the factory located there to be fed with raw materials from various communities in the shea butter-producing regions.
As part of the company’s social responsibility, it will support the breeding of hybrid shea seedlings that will have a far shorter gestation period, provide the Central Gonja Assembly with 120,000 litres of treated water daily and facilitate the upgrading of the Buipe Health Centre.
Mr. Mabengba said the factory would create jobs for more people, especially women, and improve their standard of living.
The Brazilian Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Irene Vida Gala, said Brazil would continue to partner Ghana to see to the growth and sustenance of the shea industry in the country.
Source: Daily Graphic.