One way the Niger State government is seeking to to create jobs for its teeming youths is getting them to start processing shea nuts for domestic and international markets.
The state Commissioner for Commerce and Investment, Hajia Ramatu Yar’Adua said part of the steps taken by government to improve the quality of shea nuts and its processing was the establishment of the Niger State Shea Sector Development Programme (NSSSDP) to train young university graduates to change from the present archaic practice in the picking and processing of the shea nuts, leaves and husk.
Speaking at the flag-off of the programme in Minna, the state capital, the commissioner who was represented by the Director-General, Commodity and Export Promotion Agency, Hajia Zaynab Halilu said the state is losing billions of naira in under-processing and wastage of the shea nut products.
She said that the NSSSDP would be private sector-driven and would work with two international organisations responsible for certification of exported shea nuts and its processed materials.
She said, “Government has gone into partnership with this programme because we cannot watch our God-given resource being siphoned by some businessmen and women because of the inaction of governments in the past
“The state has been losing billions of naira just because we cannot make the necessary move to transform the sector, our women are daily exposed to dangers especially of snake bites while picking the nuts, all these must stop” Hajia Zaynab Halilu declared.
The Project Manager of Niger State Shea Sector Development Programme (NSSSDP), Mr. Chinedu Okwulehie said the Programme is to increase the surge in demand for cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical use of high quality organic Shea butter and other organic derivatives of the shea fruit.
He said that the programme which is an initiative of the Governor Sani Bello would also empower the rural women who bear the stress and pains of producing the raw materials and build the capacity of the youths in expanding the shea economy.
Okwulehie said 50 people have been trained in the programme while 34 were selected to continue a three-month course to become organic inspectors, auditors and consultants.
Speaking further, he said the NSSSDP would also develop an expanded value chain matrix for shea in order to increase the value and revenue potential of the abundant shea resource in the state.
Shea nuts are said to be in high demand in the cosmetic and medical industries across the world.
by Mojirade Ojo
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