By Victoria Ojeme

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has launched the Shea Export Development Project (2022-2025) for export growth.

Dr Ezra Yakusak, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, who launched the Project on Wednesday in Abuja, said it is another initiative of NEPC in collaboration with the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), Netherlands, on value chain development of priority non-oil export products.

Yakusak said that, it is aimed at consolidating the prospects, potentials and opportunities of the shea sector in Nigeria for export growth.

He explained that the launch of the Shea project is in line with the Federal Government diversification agenda for non-oil export development, adding that the Project would focus on critical stakeholders as this intervention would contribute to making a paradigm shift from the export of raw unprocessed shea nuts to higher value-added shea products.

He said: “The aspiration is to uniquely position shea products in the enormous global market which is driven by important factors such as rising consumer awareness, increasing demand for natural and organic cosmetics without preservatives and chemicals.

“NEPC in line with its mandate has been supporting the development of the shea industry in Nigeria from farm gate to internationalization.

“The Council through the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) had implemented the STDF Project 172 on expanding the exports Sesame seeds and Sheanuts/butter through improved Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) capacity building for the private and public sectors.

“As part of the sustainability component of the Project and in order to scale up the knowledge and information acquired under the initiative, processing facilities were established in four centres which today have led to the proliferation of best practices, traceability and investments in both small and large processing facilities across the country.”

Also speaking, Mr. Lawal Dalhat, Director, Policy and Strategy, NEPC, explained that the success recorded at the initial programmes necessitated the Shea project with the objective of strengthening the capacity and improve the lots of operators in the sector, who are majorly women; leveraging the high potential of Nigeria Shea and its demand at the global market.

This intervention, Dalhat said, would necessitate increase value and diversified markets through sustainability, improved quality, certification, organic production and refined processing.

He however, pointed out that for this project to be a success, the Council will further partner with strategic regulatory and export facilitating agencies for acceptable standards, quality parameters and guidance on export trade related issues.

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