Lack of electricity has been cited as a bane to the shea butter processing business among rural women in many rural communities in the Kassena-Nankana Municipal and Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region.
In spite of the fact that the women have been able to mobilise their own resources to construct processing factories for the storage of the shea butter processing machines to add value to their products, the structures had been left idle in the various communities as a result of lack of electricity connection to the facility.
These were revealed during Kassena-Nankana Cooperative Union community level advocacy programme organised at Nyangua Community in the Kassena-Nankana West District.
The programme was organised by the Organisation for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability (ORGIIS-Ghana), an environment focused non-governmental organisation with financial and technical support from the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF).
The assistant chairperson of the Kolbita Cooperative Union, Mrs Lardi Alantia indicated that they were promised by development partners that they would support them with baobab processing machinery but their hopes were dashed as a result of lack of electricity.
She stated that most of them depended on the activities of shea products to support their families in the provision of basic needs including food, payment of school fees and medical bills among others.
She indicated that apart from the challenges with electricity, they were also faced with numerous challenges such as traditional land tenure systems, the denial of the opportunity to pick shea nuts from the farms especially when the woman’s husband was dead among others.
The women groups who lauded the efforts of ORGIIS-Ghana and the FFF, the funding agency for supporting them to produce quality baobab for export, appealed to the government through the municipal and district assemblies to extend the rural electrification project to their communities.
“We as women groups plead with the government that if electricity will not be connected to our various homes, it should be connected to our processing factories to help us remain in business and improve upon our livelihoods,” the women appealed.
The Coordinator of , ORGIIS Mr Julius Awaregya, mentioned that the women groups in four communities including Nyangua, Kuliya, Bugani and Kazigu have built their own factories and urged them to continue with their advocacy programme to ensure that government responds to their needs.
He said the baobab business had the potential to turn the fortunes of the rural women and improve their income levels and added for instance that Tree Aid had promised to supply the Nyangua community with the miller, crusher and kneader.
The coordinator revealed that through the support from his outfit and development partners, the women were able to export 40 metric tons of baobab to the United Kingdom last year and this year are expected to supply 800 metric tonnes, 25 metric tonnes and 2 metric tonnes of baobab to Wilmer, a Singaporean company, Bobo in Burkina Faso and Turkey respectively.
He explained that when the assemblies together with Ministry of Energy considered rural agro-processing value chain critically, especially when undertaking the rural electrification project, the shea butter processing would turn into a multi-billion dollar venture and make international impact for economic growth.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, NYANGUA
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