The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged an additional one million Ghana Cedis to some women shea butter producers in the Kumbungu District to acquire more machinery to make their operations easier.
Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, who made the commitment, observed that it was tedious using bare hands in most stages of shea butter production, hence the commitment to support the women to acquire more machinery to make things easier for them.
She made the commitment after touring the production site of the Women in Certified Shea Butter Production Value Chain at Gumo in the Kumbungu District of the Northern Region, to learn about the steps involved in the shea production value chain and the role of women in the shea production value chain.
The Women in Certified Shea Butter Production Value Chain at Gumo in the Kumbungu District of the Northern Region, led by Ripples Ghana, a civil society organisation, were supported by the UNDP to acquire Organic and Fairtrade Certification to export their shea butter under a project dubbed: "Women in Fair Trade Certification and Sustainable Shea Butter Production."
The project, implemented from 2019 to 2021, sought to provide women with technical training in sustainable shea butter production to help them earn a living and provide for their families, while providing a product that met international quality standards.
Currently, there are 244 women involved in the processing of shea butter and 3,000 others are involved in the collection of nuts, and they have been able to increase their income by 120 to 200 per cent.
Through the project, the women are now able to export shea butter to Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and with Fairtrade Certification, the focus is now on the United States and European markets, which constitute about 80% of the market.
Ms Eziakonwa said "One observation I made during my tour was how you have combined tradition with appropriate technology in the shea business. You are promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth for rural economies. That is the best way for Africa to achieve decent work."
She said "the UNDP is poised to helping our indigenous women to sustain and mainstream their traditional practices in business into the current development process through empowerment and direct technical support" adding the Shea Parkland project was one of such approaches to sustain the shea butter business in the country.
She said "we all owe it as a duty to support our women to earn sustainable income" calling for policy instruments, technological support, trade and direct technical support to women in that direction.
Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, Northern Regional Minister, lauded the UNDP's support for the women saying, there was need to build on it to break the cycle of poverty in the region.
Alhaji Saibu also commended the UNDP on its pledge to commit additional funds to the project, saying it would further improve the capacity of the women to do more to increase their incomes.
Madam Rabiatu Abukari, President, Ripples Ghana, said the project had helped to alleviate poverty amongst women in the area.
Madam Abukari expressed commitment for the beneficiary women to continue to uphold quality standards in their operations as well as increase their production for their mutual benefits.