Increased utilization of shea in global food and cosmetic markets has spawned an increase in global exports of the crop from 50,000 MT to more than 300,000 MT annually over the last 20 years.
The increased exports are delivering US$200 million in direct and indirect income for shea producing communities.
Data from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) indicates, shea nuts earned some US$19.1 million representing five percent of total agricultural exports making it the fifth highest of the 10 leading agricultural products by way of export earnings from the Agricultural sub-sector in 2016 trailing Cashew Nuts, Banana, and
Medicinal Plants and Fresh or Chilled Tunas in that order with yam being the sixth.
The sub-sector’s contribution to total non-traditional export (NTE) amounted to $371.14 million compared to $396.91 million earned in 2015, which translates into 15.07 per cent to total NTE earnings in 2016.
These were contained in a study to evaluate the growth of the shea industry and its economic impact on producing communities over the past 20 years by LMC International, a global agribusiness consulting firm. The study was commissioned by the Global Shea Alliance and USAID
The study also found that approximately four million women are now working to collect and process shea for exports in Africa.
Global Shea Alliance (GSA) President, Badiè Marico acknowledging the contribution of the crop to stakeholders said, “Historically, shea has been widely used for cooking oil and cosmetics in Africa. Because of the GSA and its members, shea is now being consumed in markets around the world, and in turn, improving the livelihoods of women in our communities.”
The shea industry in Ghana is mostly in the northern part of the country and dominated by women who engage in the picking and processing of the cash crop.
USAID/West Africa Mission Director, Alex Deprez expressed pride at their partnership with the women in shea, “We know well the benefits of increased trade for rural communities across Africa. The GSA is pioneering efforts to grow markets and improve the livelihoods of rural women and their families that stand at the base of the shea value chain.”