By Chioma Obinna
Nigerian traders and exporters of shea nut/butter and sesame seeds from Nigeria have began to acquire modern skills and advanced processing methods to increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that accrue from the agricultural produce to the nation.
Speaking at the opening session of the training,organised by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Director General, Dr. Paul Orhii and Mrs. Omowunmi Osibo, the former project coordinator of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), called on federal and state governments and other relevant agencies to intensify efforts at improving both quality and processing of both products in line with international standards so as to boost their economic yields for individuals and the governments.
The duo spoke in Lagos at the workshop for traders and exporters and standard enforcement officers, organised by NAFDAC in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Trade Organisation (WTO), among others.
The training is aimed at expanding Nigeria’s export on sesame seeds and shea nut/ butter through improved San/itory and Phytosanitary (SPS) Capacity Building for private and public sectors.
While highlighting the potential of shea butter in terms of generating income towards the GDP, Osibo who was a former staff of the NEPC, said that “shea butter is not generating as much as what it ought to because Nigeria produces over 326,000 metric tons of shea nuts annually.”
However, she noted that quite a good number of the 326,000 metric tons of shea nuts produced in the country is smuggled out of the nation into the neigbouring states for processing. “This is what this project sets out to address — to improve the quality, the processing and increase more job generation,” she said.
Similarly, concerning what will accrue to the country from this product, Osibo put it at over $500 million yearly.
In his speech, Orhii said with the advent of globalisation and need to expand the non-oil agric based trade, it is of paramount importance that the benefits of international collaboration and cooperation are harnessed.
According to him, the central theme of the training: Robust Systems for Safer Products and Exports of Sesame Seeds and Shea Butter, aims to inform participants on the trade and regulatory requirement of the production, exportation, sale and use of the products.
“The training is a segment of the WTO/STDF Project 172 in collaboration with Nigeria to improve SPS capacity for private and public sector,” said Orhii, adding that the WTO/STDF Project 172 generally seeks to improve the quality and expand the export of Nigerian Sesame seeds and Shea nut/butter.
Speaking further, Osibo, said the market for shear butter is expanding because of the market from the North.
Besides, cosmetics industries use shea butter, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.
Also, she noted that some European countries “allow the use of shea butter as cocoa butter equivalent.