The country loses N345 billion to smuggling of Shea products yearly, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo has said.
He said that the huge sum lost to smuggling made the NEPC to intervene in Shea butter development in Nigeria.
Awolowo, who spoke recently at the opening ceremony of a two day Shea 2015 conference in Abuja with the theme: ‘Shea Sector Development in Nigeria – A Concerted Renaissance, added that Nigeria was now the global leader in Shea export.
Stakeholders in the sector at the conference said that Shea had the potential to contribute over $3 billion dollars to the Nigerian economy.
He said: “NEPC intervention in Shea butter development in Nigeria stems from this: every year, nearly N345 billion is lost to smuggling of Shea products.
“Over the past 10 years, demands for Shea products have grown both in the European Union and in the United States necessitating Nigeria and other West African states to go into the export of Shea products.
“The global demand for Shea butter is worth about $10 billion dollars and it is projected to be worth about $30 billion dollars by the year 2020.
“Nigerian Shea has not only penetrated the American market but has done so while adhering to the highest international quality standard. Nigeria is now said to be the global leader in Shea export.”
He called on government to develop the sector, adding that strong sector development could lead to poverty reduction, women empowerment and employment through small and medium scale industry.
“There are approximately 16 Shea producing states in Nigeria. Our problems arise from quality control and this means we are unable to convert our comparative advantage to competitive advantage in the global arena. But yet we are aware that strong sector development can lead to poverty reduction, women empowerment and employment generation through the establishment of small and medium scale industry and a earning of precious foreign exchange.
“Recognising the importance of Shea products in Nigeria, NEPC in collaboration with several other international and domestic partners implemented the standards and trade development facility ( STDF project 172) seeking to improve the quality of Nigerian Shea butter through SPS capacity building for stakeholders and improve quality control along the entire supply chain.
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