The Federal Government on Tuesday gave assurances that it will revive and grow the shea industry to become a major revenue earner for the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo said this at the second annual shea conference in Abuja with theme, “The status, the value, and the future of the shea sector in Nigeria’s Economic Transformation.”
The Keynote address of the Minister was delivered by Mr Sulaiman Adebayo Audu, Director, Commodities and Export Department of FMITI.
The conference is being organized by National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NSPAN) one of the commodity Association formed, nurtured and launched by the Ministry which is also under the umbrella body of Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) as part of the Federal Government’s effort to promote the shea industry.
The Minister said that the Nigerian economy depends largely on primary production with a lot of export potentials, adding that the country’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area and World Trade Organization requires government to engage more in economic activities especially Agro commodities in order to take the advantage of the global market.
He described the conference as very auspicious and timely, considering the fact that Federal Government has taken many bold steps in ensuring that Nigeria’s trade space is liberalized both in terms of good and service.
Adebayo explained further that the event focuses on articulating strategic approach to addressing issues in the production of quality shea seeds for the revival and sustainable growth of the shea industry.
He noted that this forum will no doubt provide government with the opportunity to further consolidate its diversification effort to reform the economy, create the necessary strategy to move away from the country’s overdependence on oil and gas by creating conducive environment for attracting investment and developing the full potentials of agro commodities.
This, according to him, would help to improve the living standard of the people and lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years as envisaged by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “Since coming to office, we have made significant progress to tackle some constraints that have over the years severely inhibited the growth and development of Agro sector in Nigeria.
“As you are all aware, Shea is an agricultural commodity with application across virtually all aspect of our lives. The uniqueness and the amazing benefit of Shea have given it some features which stand the commodity tall among other agricultural commodities.
“For us to take advantage of this commodity, we must create 2 greater ‘investment will’ even as government is ready to continue to create the right environment and give the needed support for stakeholders to operate for the advancement of the sector.
“The global economy is characterized by competition, rapid technological developments as seen in fast paced changes in production processes, which without doubt is the bedrock of industrialized countries.
“In the same vein, the Government is also making efforts to tackle some of the challenges faced by the shea industry in Nigeria, in order to aid production with a view to repositioning the shea industry and taking optimal advantage of Nigeria’s huge potentials in production to achieving self-sufficiency in the shea sub-sector of the economy. As part of our efforts in repositioning the shea sector.”
In his speech at the event, President of National Shea Products Association of Nigeria, Mohammed Kontagora, said that Shea is an old commodity that has transformed from traditional women extractors to a global commodity that is not only highly versatile but very much in demand all over the world.
He said Nigeria is well endowed in shea resources, but the commodity is yet to receive sufficient attention.
This conference, he said, was conceived to promote its visibility, escalate its value and attract appropriate public and private sectors to what we can rightly call an essential commodity.
He said, “As an Association, we believe that we should act as the catalyst to drive the shea value chain and optimize its utilization and elevate its derivatives. This is a sector that is capable of generating over billion dollars every year and create jobs for millions of Nigerians.
“Like most natural endowments that God has bestowed on Nigeria, the shea trade has grown in the wild and has multiplied through various means of dispersal.
“However, with farm expansion, deforestation, wood fuel and other harmful practices the shea tree population is fast depleting.
“As part of our strategic response, we have conceptualized, and are presenting for inauguration today, our flagship, the PROJECT SPARE, which translates to Shea Parkland Afforestation and Reforestation.”
The major highlight of the opening ceremony was the launch of Two projects representing the strategic direction of the Association. These are: SPARE ( Shea Parklands Afforestation and Reforestation; and ASP( Action for Shea Parklands).
The projects were presented by the Association President and was launched by the Governor of Niger State represented by his Secretary to the State Government, Ahmed Ibrahim Matane.
The Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and Senate Committee Vice-chairman on Agriculture, Senator Bima Mohammed were present at the opening ceremony.