Foundation urges collaboration on Shea tree value-chain development in Nasarawa
By Linus Ogbu, Lafia
Shea Integrated Global Foundation, an NGO, has called for stakeholders’ collaboration in the development of Shea tree value chain in Nasarawa State.
Mrs Priscilla Nwosu, Manager of the Foundation’s ” She (A) Matters” project, made the call during the project’s information disseminations session on Thursday in Lafia.
She pointed out that the call became imperative owing to the benefits derivable from the Shea tree value chain development.
She said that the foundation in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP), has successfully executed the conservation and livelihood improvement of women through Shea tree value-chain development in Arikya Community in Lafia Local Government Area.
Nwosu said the project, supervised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), saw to the training of more than 200 women on Shea butter processing to global standards, and sales to improve their livelihood.
“About 300 other women have already indicated interest while the youth had become direct advocates on the project.
“We are also constructing a processing centre for the production of Shea butter in the community even as we have created two major market connections for product sales with willing buyers,” she said.
The project manager added that the quality of the shea butter produced in Arikya had been internationally certified, thereby earning the community recognition as Nigeria’s first organic parkland for collection of Shea in the wild.
As part of the project’s conservation goal, Nwosu said that 220 LPG gas cylinders and burners were provided to 220 households in the community as alternation to the use of firewood in order to discourage the felling of trees.
“The community, through the traditional ruler, graciously donated 1,600 hectares of forest and mapped as conservation area for the project as against our target forest area of 1,000 hectares,” she said.
Nwosu maintained that project had put Arikya in the world map as the Foundation was recently invited to the World Trade Centre (WTO) to share on policy and inclusiveness based on the project being implemented in Nasarawa State.
“One of our partners that led the organic certification initiative are also leading a pilot apiculture (bee keeping) scheme in Arikya,” she said.
Nwosu, therefore, called on government and other stakeholders to give attention to development of Shea value-chain in the state giving the huge benefits to the state.
Also speaking, Mr Collins Nwosu, founder of the NGO, said the “She (A)Matters” had achieved its conservation goals, empowered women through sustainable livelihoods and established a model for community-driven environmental initiatives.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Ibrahim Angbolo, commended the Foundation for the initiative.
The commissioner represented by Mrs Hauwa Abdul, Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, assured that the state government would continue to partner the organisation through information dissemination to ensure sustainability of the project.
Angbolo noted that with the effect of climate change, Shea-value chain would encourage deforestation thereby protecting the environment and empower women to improve their livelihoods.
He added that the project would also encourage tourism and generate revenue for the state.
On his part, the Sarkin Arikya, Alhaji Abbas Babba, represented by the Sardaunan Arikya, Adamu Abubakar, appreciated the foundation for impacting positively on the community through the Shea value-chain production.
He said the initiative had reduced the rate of felling of trees in the community and assured that they would continue to build on the knowledge gained to ensure the sustainability of the project.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke at the meeting, Mrs Hauwa Hamidu and Hadiza Ibrahim, both thanked the foundation for equipping them with the knowledge on how to produce Shea butter and conserve their environment.