The Federal Government has advised stakeholders in the Shea sub-sector to add value to the nut, through production and processing to meet international standards.
Dr Evelyn Ngige, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, gave the advise at a stakeholder’s sensitisation programme on Shea nut quality improvement, on Wednesday, in Minna.
Ngige, represented by Alhaji Gata Liman, the Director, Federal Produce Inspection Service Department (FPISD), said the programme was to highlight the standard practice required to maintain the quality of Shea nut produced in Niger.
She added that improving the quality of Shea nut would help build a robust export market structure with the increased demand for the commodity.
“At the end of the programme, market opportunities should be opened up for local farmers, merchants, processors and exporters as they adopt the internationally accepted standards for Shea nut.
“It is only when the right strategies are deployed in the sector that the expected revenue can be generated in abundance from the export of the commodity,” she said.
According to her, statistics from the global markets indicated that Shea nut production and processing had overcome subsistence production.
She said that Shea nut should be properly dried, cleaned, packaged and stored, adding that adulteration in any form was unacceptable as exportable Shea nut consignment must be free from pest-infestation.
Earlier, in his address of welcome, Liman, Director FPISD, said the programme was to create awareness on the requirements for improving Shea nut quality as a key component of prescribed standards for agro-export.
Liman, who was represented by Dafang Sule, the Deputy Director FPISD, said the department would continue to ensure the quality of Shea butter as well as enforce compliance with stipulated standards for women to get maximum returns.
“Only properly standardised Shea nut can bring about high revenues for the country.
“Therefore, our responsibility as major players is to ensure the right things are done to improve the quality of Shea nut for local use as well as for export,” he said.
In her remarks, Hajiya Jummai Abubakar, Coordinator of the National Association of Shea Butter Processors in Niger, called on the Federal and State governments to support the association through training of women in modern methods of processing.
“We want the government to support our women with modern equipment, because Shea butter is now a hot cake as the product is scarce due to high demand,” she said.
In their separate remarks, representatives of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), advised shea butter processors to register their products for easy export. (NAN)