From William N-lanjerborr Jalulah,
The shea nut industry in the Sirigu community in the Kasena-Nankana Municipality has been given a significant boost, following the launch of a unique shea nut product called Lam, which literally means beauty in Kassim.
The shea nut industry is one of the lucrative economic empowerment ventures in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
It is mainly women who engage in either picking the nuts, processing them for sale to bigger companies in the South, or go a step further, through the use of traditional methods, to process the nuts for shea butter.
These methods are time-consuming yet the women do not get attractive rewards for their struggle, because the quality and safety of the final product is adversely affected by the poor processing methods.
The eventual outcome is low patronage of what is indisputably the most resourceful local product, which has multiple uses such as fat for cooking, for cream, or lotion for the body in the severe climatic conditions of the three regions.
Under its Family Livelihoods Support Programme (FLISP), Afrikids Ghana, a child rights non-government organisation in Bolgatanga, has provided training and support for local women cooperatives, using modernised and improved methods of extraction, processing, and packaging of the highest standards.
The Lam product (pomade), therefore, meets the standards of the Food and Drugs Authority, as it is produced under hygienic conditions by these cooperative women groups in Sirigu.
The Manageress of the Afrikids Family Livelihoods Support Programme (FLISP), Madam Dorcas Dordaa, at the launch, said Afrikids Ghana expects the women to use income from the business to pay for the education of their children, provide insurance for their families, and improve upon nutrition for their families.
She disclosed that the African Women Development Fund Shea Improvement Project is to provide training and resources on marketing and branding for shea butter and soap making for Afrikids cooperatives to support 150 women from various cooperatives to benefit.
Madam Dordaa said the 150 women are drawn from different cooperatives, with a total membership of about 500 women, and the rest of the community women are expected to get training support from those who have already received training.
According to her, Afrikids Ghana expects that given an average family dependency of 1 to 5 dependents, the project will be supporting about 1,500 people across 150 households in the most impoverished communities of the Upper East Region.
Meanwhile, FLISP, which started in 2008, has since benefited over 1,000 in the region.