Shea products business is gradually emerging to become a sort of a cornerstone in the struggle by Nigeria to break the circle of poverty by empowering Nigerians to have access to businesses that are fully homegrown and have the potentials to impact on both the national economy and economic empowerment of the people, especially at the grassroots level.
Shea products and the extraction processes have an important socio-economic role in the communities where the products exist and these areas are many and spread across the country.
Kebbi state is one of the states in Nigeria where thousands of people live on the income they generate from the business.
It is because of the importance of Shea products business to the grassroots and its capacity to impact on the economic status of the ordinary people, that the recent election of officers into the executive council of the National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN) has become very imperative and decisive to the economic well being of the state and the people involved in it in Kebbi state.
Records have shown that 14 of Kebbi’s 21 Local Government Areas have significant Shea endowment and it is believed that thousands of people especially women and other vulnerable groups of people have a considerable lower level but very critical participation in it.
In areas such as Zuru, Yauri, Bagudo, Koko/Besse, Dandi and Maiyama, the development and expansion of opportunities such as exploring new international markets and value addition will greatly enhance profit and facilitate growth.
It is in the light of this that we view the election of two illustrious sons of Kebbi state into the executive council committee of NASPAN as a demonstration of the invaluable importance of the state in the decision making the process of Shea business and the need to accord the state the leverage it will require to contribute to the common interest of practitioners on the national scale.
At its annual general meeting held on the 17th of August, 2020 at the conference hall of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Abuja, notable businessman and philanthropist Alhaji Ibrahim Bagudu and respected veteran media practitioner Abubakar Kalgo were elected as an executive council member and Publicity Secretary respectively.
This has no doubt given Kebbi a platform at the executive level to represent the state and work towards increasing accessibility and more value for the people of Kebbi state in particular and the country in general.
As an astute businessman with international connections, a philanthropist of note and a patriotic son of Kebbi, Ibrahim Bagudu is expected to bring his experience to bear to explore more avenues that would increase local participation, government involvement at the point of export and reasonable value for money for those at the lowest rung of the chain.
Abubakar Bagudu Kalgo, the Dallatun Kalgo is expected, in his new position as the Publicity Secretary to evolve strategies to increase participation, the volume of trade and sensitization of communities to key into modern practices to increase yield and profit.
Shea business has contributed to a large extent in providing jobs and means of livelihood to millions of Nigerians and the premium given to it demonstrates how serious it is as well as its prime position in the fight against capital flight and fiscal instability of the country.
A significant proportion of the rural population especially women who are directly involved in Shea nut collection and butter extraction have found a very durable and reliable source of income, and statistics have shown that more and more people are taking advantage to get involved in many states in the country.
The marketability of Shea nuts and Shea butter in the international market signals wider opportunities for expansion to create more employment, multiply sources of income and thus enhance security in the country. It is vital to say that Shea business also plays an important role in enhancing rural livelihood through sustainable income generation and poverty alleviation because the value chain starts with the rural people.
A study conducted and published in the Journal of Agriculture and Crops Research found out that in 2014, the export margin for Shea nuts and butter were N19,500 and N34,500 per ton respectively. It added that the return per each Naira invested in Shea based enterprise range from 0.16 to 0.46. Credible studies have proved that the sustainable income it provides down the value chain to all the players can only get better by the years.
The import of this write up is to highlight the positive impact Shea business will send down to the people of Kebbi state and the role it will play in providing jobs, fighting poverty and enhancing the security of Kebbi state and the nation at large. Again, the involvement of top Kebbi state indigenes in the person of Ibrahim Bagudu and Abubakar Bagudu Kalgo has further increased the stakes for the people of the state.
At the national level, the eye-raising acceptance speech made by the newly elected National President of NASPAN Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Kontagora gives credence to stakeholders that the next few years would be very decisive for the industry.
He called for a united Shea family to pave way for repositioning the Shea sector to an enviable position in the nation’s agricultural commodity placement and assured, to everyone’s delight, that programs will be designed to promote robust entrepreneurship activities aimed primarily at empowering rural women who formed the bulk of Shea value chain membership.
It should be stated that although the federal government has played its role very well by promoting and protecting the players at all levels, more needs to be done to provide palliatives and soft loans to women practitioners to have greater access of the product at the local level and encourage Shea farming to increase yield and empowerment of the people.
Ahmed-BK is writing from Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State and can be reached at (email@example.com).