Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture (NIRSAL) has estimated that Nigeriaâ€™s current gross shea value is worth $320 million (N115 billion).
The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhammed made this valuation yesterday the 11th annual Shea Conference in Abuja organized by Global Alliance in conjunction with USAID and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Shea, which major derivatives include pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic products, is chiefly grown in three states of the federation. The states are Niger, Kwara and Kebbi.
Abdulhammed said the Nigeria presently produces 425,000 metric tonnes of Shea kernels, which is only about 40 percent of its potential.
He added that if the value chain is supported with additional financing and production is expanded to cover the other Shea Belt States in the North Central agricultural zone, Nigeria is capable of grossing about half a trillion Naira.
He stressed that NIRSAL had gone ahead to initiate a pilot intervention programme for fixing of the processing of the shea value chain by partnering with a firm called Agreeable, to finance the four intervention projects along the value chain, by producing shea butter for the confecionary and cosmetics industry.
â€œImagine the revenue that we will gross, if we hit the 1million metric tonnes at the production level of converting Shea kernels to Shea butter alone, which will be almost a half a trillion naira. To achieve this I will like to call on the stakeholders because the global market is available for us,â€
He called for the introduction of legislation against indiscriminate felling shea nuts and other economic trees and the for state governments to support NIRSAL primary projects with waivers and reasonable tax waivers.
Minister of State of Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, who declared the conference open, said the shea industry had created unprecedented opportunities for means of livelihood for over four million women and youths across the shea producing and processing countries from picking, packaging and logistics support.
Abubakar said the global market for natural cosmetics is estimated to be about $30 billion and is projected to grow at 10 percent annually.
She said there is a growing public perception in European markets such as Germany, France and the UK about the health and safety of natural ingredients such as shea butter over synthetic substitutes.
Abubakar, however, lamented the about 80 percent of Nigeriaâ€™s shea is exported in its raw form, insisting the federal government will place emphasis on the on the importance of adding value to its nuts through processing.