As the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) prepares for her 11th conference, Goldstreet Business can report that the export of shea products from Ghana has increased from 50,000 MT to 350,000 MT, a 600 per cent increment in the past 20 years.
Crucial for the growth is the progressively utilization of shea products in the food and cosmetic market worldwide.
Shea butter, a processed fruit from the Karité Tree, is traditionally used for skin and hair care as well as for medicinal purposes. It contains among others vitamin E, Beta-Karotin and Allantoin, the latter has anti-inflammatory effects. It also works as sun protection and can be used for cooking.
According to the GSA, 90 percent of the world’s shea butter is a valued edible ingredient in chocolates and other confectionaries as it is used to modify melting point and improve shelf life. The remaining 10 percent find utilization in the cosmetic industry for soaps and body lotions.
The butter from the karité tree grows in 21 sub-Sahara states from Senegal to South Sudan, including Ghana is traditionally manually made by women but because of the rising demand on the global market, mechanical processing has started gaining importance.
To enhance the mechanisation of the shea processing, partner organisations outside the continent that import shea butter have extended support and equipped the traditional processors in the African countries. UK-based cosmetic company, Lush, is cooperating with the Ojoba Collective, a group of women processors in the Northern Region of Ghana from harvesting the fruits until the final product.
According to GSA 16,000,000 women in the 21 countries collect the fruits from the approximately 2 billion karité trees to achieve approximately 600,000 tons each year. The high increase in exports is delivering US$ 200 million in direct and indirect income for the shea producing communities.
By Sophie Zoe Schreiber