Nigeria loses $2.16bn annually to shea butter smuggling
It has been disclosed that Nigeria loses $2.166 billion annually due to the smuggling of shea butter across the country’s borders.
This disclosure was made by the Director General, Niger State Commodity and Export Promotion Agency, Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Kontagora, at the pre-conference press briefing by the Global Shea Alliance in Abuja.
Kontagora said Nigeria produces at least 57 per cent of the world supply of shea with its accompanying derivatives with a global annual value of US$3.8 billion but loses most of the financial benefits that should come to the country as a result of the smuggling of the produce.
Kontagora stated that at least 50 trailers carrying shea butter and its derivatives cross the Nigerian border daily to Benin Republic from Niger State alone, while the Nigeria Customs Service appears unable to check the smuggling activities.
By developing the large scale production of shea in Nigeria, Kontagora noted that Nigeria will be on the right path to diversifying the economy because shea butter and its derivatives have a very large market in Nigeria alone as well as in other parts of the world.
Kontagora revealed that part of the opportunities open to Nigeria to benefit from the production of shea is the recent directive by the European Union that five per cent of shea must be added to all confectionaries, particularly chocolate in the zone.
The Director General appealed to the Nigeria Customs Service to do more to stop the smuggling of shea products across the border so that the country can reap the maximum benefit of the international trade of the produce.
According to Kontagora, the shea industry in Nigeria is on the path of growth with Nigeria having the potential to mechanically process 6,000 SETs per year and export 50,000 tons of shea nuts per year. While new processing plants are being constructed every year, existing ones are being renovated to increase capacity and efficiency.
The president of the Global Shea Alliance, Eugenia Akuete, disclosed that more than 15 million women across West Africa participate directly in the shea industry, and women collect nuts across the Savannah area stretching from Senegal to Uganda and South Sudan.
She added that for every $1 of shea exported, local villages receive an additional 50 per cent of income, while millions of women make shea butter that millions more West Africans consume daily in food and skin care products.
The world conference on shea which will be held in Nigeria next year is designed to bring together all stakeholders in the production and processing of shea to network and develop mutually beneficial business connections.