• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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SEF to train, empower 30,000 Oyo women on quality shea nut collection

shea nut

Shea Empowerment Foundation (SEF), a non-governmental organisation is set to train about 30,000 Oyo women on quality shea nut collection in three years.

The initiative is targeted at promoting a sustainable business model for the women and youths in the Shea and agricultural sector in Oyo state.

SEF in partnership with Oyo state government and Global players in the Shea Industry; Danida Market Development Partnerships (DMDP), AAK, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Global Shea Alliance (GSA), National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN), is set to unlock the potentials derivable from the country’s shea value chain.

This brought about stakeholders engagement meeting in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital to seek the support of the relevant stakeholders to highlight the operational challenges militating against the development of the industry in the State

The stakeholders meeting themed: ‘Developing the Shea Sector in Oyo State,” created an avenue for all participants in the local and international Shea industry to map out strategies for the implementation of best practices that would drive the development of a highly productive, diversified, and market-led Shea sector.

Mobola Sagoe, executive director of SEF said that the women are to benefit directly and indirectly from the training on quality shea nut collection within communities in the state, adding that it would positively impact the local, state, and national economies.

“This project would not only advance the Nigerian shea market on the Global Shea Map, but it would also place the women shea collectors in a valuable position in the value chain as well as strengthen their knowledge and capabilities whilst improving their lives.”

According to her, this project has multifarious benefits, it will impart skills and improve competencies of the local pickers/collectors, improve the quality and grading of the nuts. and assure traceability – all vital ingredients required to enhance the status of Nigeria on the global shea map.

“Engagement with the women and youths in the local communities over the last six years caused us to carry out a training needs assessment early on. We had hitherto been involved in sporadic training specifically targeted at women processors to institute phytosanitary standards in the processing of shea butter under the auspices of Shea Origin Limited.

“We were then advised by our long-standing partner and ally, USAID to set-up an NGO whose sole focus would be capacity development through training to significantly close the yawning skills gap at the community and state levels.”

“So, we came up with Shea Empowerment Foundation which has trained over 1,000 women within Oyo state.

“If we train 1,000 women, they are supposed to go back and train maybe another 5,000 or more women. Sometimes, we have repeated training.”

“The current project to be executed by SEF, with the strong support of international donor agencies, has as its objective the training of 30,000 women over the next three years in Oyo state with a specific focus on picking, aggregation, business skills development, and parkland management with an average of circa 200 sessions per annum. ”

In his remark, Bisi Ilaka, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Oyo State, lauded the initiative, stressing that the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde was out to expand the economy of the state.

While saying that agriculture was one of the veritable tools in that regard, Ilaka said the Shea butter sector would have a lot to do with women in terms of capacity building

“They will be afforded training to process high-quality Shea butter that could compete globally with the best global practices.

“Lifting our people out of poverty should be the drive of any administration; a lot of women are involved in this sub-sector and this will improve their financial wellbeing and that will bode well for everybody in the state.”

“We have challenges of mass unemployment in the state; this will also impact directly on those figures, directly and indirectly. I hope this is the first of many other initiatives that will come to the state because we must build our people. The biggest resource we have in this state is our people and if we make them better equipped to deal with the challenges of the day today, with the vicissitudes of life, it will bode well for us as a people in the state,” Ilaka said.

Some beneficiaries of the training who spoke with journalists, attested to the benefits derivable in the picking and processing of Shea butter, describing it as a money-making venture for both old and the younger generations.

They, however, appealed to the government at various levels, to grant loans to trainees to afford them the opportunities of expanding the scope of the Shea sector to boost the economy.

At the stakeholders meeting, there were discussions on the socioeconomic value of the direct sourcing model for shea nuts in Nigeria and avenues for the protection of shea trees and parkland management.