Business News of Thursday, 12 April 2007
Wa, April 12, GNA- Henceforth only registered companies would be allowed to purchase and export sheanuts in the country, Mr. Isaac Osei, Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board has said. He said the COCOBOD would also expect returns on purchases and exports of sheanuts and sheabutter from registered companies to enable it to develop a national policy on the crop.
Mr. Osei was addressing stakeholders' workshop on sheanuts in Wa on Thursday, which was on the theme: "Revamping the sheanut industry". He said the COCOBOD was working out a plan to establish a minimum analytic price for the crop for each season and also put in place external marketing structures to benefit buyers and pickers. Participants from the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions, who are attending the two-day forum, would review the sheanut industry; discuss key sector challenges, research and the sheanut industry and market opportunities.
They would also discuss the total utilization of the shea fruit - effect of its primary processing and butter quality, germplasm collection and strategies for the establishment of sheanuts plantation as well as energy generation from shea butter waste.
Mr. Osei said sheanut production was very important not only to the government but also to the people of the three Northern Regions as well as the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions.
He said because of the important role sheanut play in the socio-economic advancement of women and the national economy; the government would not allow the sector to be in "seemingly free-for- all situation" to the detriment of women and other pickers who had toiled to sustain the industry.
He expressed his regret about the neglect of the sheanut industry for the past 15 years, after its internal and external marketing was privatised.
This he said had compelled the COCOBOD to move away from direct purchasing activities to become a regulator, tasked to license prospective companies to buy, process and export the crop.
Mr. Osei said the COCOBOD would ensure that the legal framework governing the sheanut and sheabutter industry was strictly adhered to. He gave the assurance that it would encourage other marketing entities such the Produce Buying Company (PBC) and Ghana National Procurement Agency (GNPA) to sustain the purchasing of the crop. "We will also continue to provide scientific research into improving on the shea tree stock, especially in the areas of insect species and diseases associated with the tree as well as reducing its gestation period to facilitate the establishment of plantation by farmers", he said.
Mr. Osei urged the participants to bring their collective ideas to bear on the way forward for the industry, which he said, supported many families and the economies of the people in the three Northern Regions.
Mr. Ambrose Dery, Upper West Regional Minister, in a welcoming speech read on his behalf said the sheanut industry has the solution to addressing the prevailing high poverty levels among the people. He said the full economic potentials of the crop has not been tapped and urged the government to put in more efforts to make its potentials realized to benefit the rural poor.
He cautioned the participants to be mindful of the threats of desertification and come out with ideas to fight it to protect the shea tree.
Nana Yiadom Boakye, National Chief Farmer, who is a member of the Cocoa/Coffee/ sheanut Farmers Association, commended the government for showing interest in the sheanut industry.
He called for cooperation of all stakeholders in the industry to ensure the revamping of the industry to help reduce poverty among rural people. 12 April 07