Shea-butter farmers in Kwara State have lamented the lack of value addition and unavailability of a ready market for the growth and standardisation of the industry.
A cross-section of Kwara farmers who spoke on the issue called for the government’s intervention for the state to realise its full potential in shea-butter farming.
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A peasant farmer, Ajara Saidu said, “There is the need for the government to provide improved seedlings and processing machines to increase yields,’’ adding that security has been a major issue for them in Kaiama Local Government Area.
She added, “In a day, we can produce one basin of the shea-butter seeds, but with a machine we can have 10. We are now in its period, but we need security to pick the seeds in the bush.
Also, Jumai Abdulmumini, another farmer in Nuku, another community in Kaiama said, “We don’t have engines to grind the seeds; and bush burning, lumbering activities and deforestation are affecting us.
“Because of the increased interest in soya beans production, farmers are now cutting down shea-butter trees to allow sunlight get to them because they are planted together.”
The chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kwara State chapter, Usman Mahmud Aboki, on his part said, “We are having the challenge of lack of market for the produce as the middlemen have taken over buying at a very cheat rate in basins at the rate of N3,000, instead of in kilograms. There is no ready market for it despite its medicinal and economic value.
“We have them in a large quantity but not exploiting it for commercial purpose because the government is not providing a conducive environment for farmers.
“There are no industries and access loans for the women to compete with market forces outside their localities. A peasant farmer cannot afford to take his shear-butter to Ilorin from Kaiama through Ogbomosho because of the issue of insecurity and bad roads but rather wait and sell at a cheap price. They don’t even know where the market is.”
Aboki said the processing of shea-butter was still archaic in Kwara. “We still follow the Stone Age tradition of plucking the seeds, boiling it and roasting in local pot before grinding it locally.
“The government should site industries at the doorsteps of farmers to have easy access and ready markets at the local government headquarters each.
“For now, there is no value addition as farm locations are not motorable, coupled with the issue of security.
“There is also the need for the government to partner with bodies like the NCAM to purchase fabricated machines for farmers at a highly subsidised rate, to be sited in villages for peasants farmers to shell, boil and add value to the seeds,” he added.
‘We must stop using chemicals for fishing’
A traditional ruler in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Usman Abdullahi, has advised residents of his domain and other Nigerians against using chemicals for fishing.
Abdullahi, the ‘Ehimega Opand, said it was to avoid water pollution and in the interest of the health of the people.
The first class traditional ruler gave the advice while addressing his subjects in his palace at Umaisha, Toto Local Government Area of the state.
He lamented the pollution of the river in the area through the use of chemicals for fishing, and called for attitudinal change.
Abdullahi called on his people and other Nigerians not to be idle but embrace farming, fishing and trading to be self-reliant and contribute positively to societal development.
He said the call had become imperative due to the importance of agriculture to human and societal development.
“Agriculture and trade provide food, employment and improve the standard of living of the people,” he said.
He commended Governor Abdullahi Sule for his security efforts in the area, which he said had improved tremendously.
He said the governor had done a lot for the people in terms of security, which was a major challenge in the past.
“Now, with his tireless efforts, our people are secured and you can travel both day and night without any fear of attack. We thank him for that,” he added.
The royal father also appreciated the development efforts of the government, especially in attracting investors to the area.
The traditional ruler called on his people to support and cooperate with the government to succeed. (NAN)