The shea [shee] tree is a traditional African food plant. Today it has many commercial uses. Increased trade in shea products, benefiting the economies of many African nations, will be the result of a $13 million, five-year agreement signed this month in Accra, Ghana between the Global Shea Alliance, or GSA, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to promote shea markets worldwide and improve sustainable production in Africa.
“The shea industry is changing and companies, governments, and donors are investing more in sustainable production and improving the benefit to 16,000,000 women collectors and processors,” says Moumouni Konate, President of the Global Shea Alliance. “The goal of this critical partnership is to help women collectors and processors organize into cooperatives, obtain equipment and training, and improve the financial benefit from the sale of their products. Stronger and more profitable women’s groups will process more shea, improve quality, and protect the trees.”
During the Global Shea Alliance’s annual conference in Accra, Ghana, USAID/West Africa Mission Director Alex Deprez said, “We know well the benefits of increased trade for rural communities across Africa.”
The partnership will match up to $6.5 million in USAID funds with $6.5 million in private sector funding raised by the GSA to implement promotional and sustainability activities in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria.
These activities include launching research projects to improve shea tree planting materials; supporting tree planting campaigns and improved management of parklands; launching resource conservation projects to reduce wood and water use; hosting annual conferences and exhibitions in Africa, the United States, and the European Union; constructing 250 warehouses; health and safety initiatives; improving financial benefits by 50 percent; and providing capacity building and trainings for 137,500 women shea collectors and processors; and a variety of other international engagements to grow shea markets worldwide.
“The GSA is pioneering efforts to grow markets and improve the livelihoods of rural women and their families that stand at the base of the shea value chain,” said USAID/West Africa Mission Director Deprez. “We are proud to partner in these activities.”