The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has set its sight on increasing Nigeria’s exports earnings from shea butter by between 30 per cent and 40 per cent.
Executive director/chief executive officer of the NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak, dropped this hint during the opening session of CBI-NEPC Strategic Conference on Transformation of the Nigeria Shea Sector on Wednesday in Abuja.
Yakusak said the strategic partnership with CBI will not only consolidate the prospects, potential and opportunities of the Shea sector in Nigeria for export growth but also contribute to making a paradigm shift from the export of raw unprocessed sheanuts to higher value-added shea products.
According to him, considering the large market that exists for the commodity and its derivatives in Nigeria and other parts of the world, the agency will not relent in efforts to uniquely position shea products in the enormous global market which is driven by important factors such as; rising consumer awareness, increasing demand for natural and organic cosmetics without preservatives and chemicals.
“When we export raw materials, we get little or nothing. When you add value, when you process, you cannot process alone that means you need more people to help.
“You are going to employ people and that is what we are doing. Shea is commodity-based products, women are involved, we also want to empower women and the youth, that’s where we are headed,”he explained.
He said the agency is taking issues of lack of standard shea processing methods and facilities, inadequate in formation/data on small and large-scale producers of shea butter, lack of awareness on best practices, poor packaging and branding and indiscriminate felling of shea trees which are militating against the growth of the sector, very serious.
Yakusak also disclosed that the agency’s earlier partnerships with CBI was on Export Market Development Programme for SME exporters in three value chains; Cocoa, Cashew and Sesame and also the on-going Nigeria Sustainability Ginger Programme (2021 – 2025) which is leveraging on the distinct natural features of ginger for value chain development for the export market.
Also speaking at the event, project manager, Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), Dorianne Wegen, explained that Nigeria was chosen by Netherland because of a very strong conviction to promote the non-oil strategic commodities such as ginger oil chain and shea in the country with the attendant benefits for the economy and all parties.
“We see so much production and a lot of which goes into the neighboring countries. And we are wondering why Nigeria is not among the top exporting countries in the world. because we see that it is possible, you have the products, you have the intelligence and willingness to do these.
“I think we should work on capacity building through our value chain. And to ensure that the value from shea is spread across the whole chain. So, it doesn’t get stuck at one place so everybody working will share the benefits,” she said.