Mr. Bukari Moses Mabengba, the Deputy Northern Regional Minister, has described the shea tree as God’s blessing to the people of the north without which the poverty levels in the area would have been worse.
He said governments had continuously discriminated against the people of the north in developmental policies and projects but God in his wisdom had endowed the people with the gift of the shea tree with which they could better their lives.
Mr. Mabengba was addressing a dialogue meeting for the National Association of Shea Nut Farmers Processors and Buyers of Ghana in Tamale on Thursday.
It was organized by the BUSAC Fund under the theme “Developing the sheanut industry is key to the Northern Poverty Reduction” and aimed at finding out issues affecting the farmers and processors and how to address them.
He questioned the rationale for the previous administration to create the shea industry in Kumasi saying “That region does not produce any shea product. This is unfair and discrimination against a section of the nation.”
Mr. Mabengba said the NDC government was committed to reversing the issues and making the people of the north benefit from the production of the shea nut and had set up an expert body to oversee the industry for their benefit.
He appealed to agricultural officers in the country to be more practical and find appropriate local solutions to the shea industry instead of always being theoretical in their efforts at finding solutions to the needs of the country.
Mr. Ahmed Tijani, Northern Regional Agricultural Officer for Crops, said the shea nut was a valuable crop for the people of the north and must be protected as a national assert.
He said most house holds in the north especially the rural folks earned their livelihood through the shea tree and so should protect it properly and add value to it.
Mr. Emmanuel Abu Alhassan, the National Secretary of the National Association of Shea Nut Farmers Processors and Buyers of Ghana, said the long gestation period of the tree had discouraged a lot of farmers from going into its cultivation.
He said in Burkina Faso the gestation period of the crop had been reduced to three years and this was encouraging a lot of farmers to go into its cultivation.
Mr. Alhassan urged the Ghanaian agricultural Officers to find solutions by reducing the gestation period of crop to enable more farmers to cultivate it.