The Presidential Special Support for Shea nut, an initiative aimed at guaranteeing the export earnings from the Shea commodity, may not be achieved as intended by the government.
Whiles two demonstration farms of Shea trees located at Daboya, and Babilee in the Northern and Upper West Regions respectively under the initiative are relatively doing well, the one at Balungu in the Upper East Region has withered.
The Daboya farm is 16 acres with 882 Shea seedlings; Babilee is 17 acres with 760 Shea seedlings and Balungu is 10 acres with 580 Shea seedlings including a Shea nursery at Daboya.
GNA’s assessment of the situation in the other two farms (Daboya and Babilee) after touring the farms over the weekend indicates that if no urgent action is taken, they will also begin to wither.
GNA’s tour of the farms followed the government’s inauguration of a technical committee on the development of the Shea butter industry and the supervisory consultative committee on the development of the Shea butter industry in May, 2014.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the then Minister of Trade and Industry, who inaugurated the committees in Tamale, announced that government had earmarked five million Ghana Cedis towards the development of the Shea nut industry by planting two million Shea nut trees in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
He also said that 12 Shea nut processing plants would be constructed in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, while 1,000 women would be trained to be part of the Shea nut value chain.
Following the inauguration of the committees, the Export Trade Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) in July, 2014, approved a grant of GH¢3,432,635.00 to Savana Plantations to set up three nurseries of Shea trees and three Shea nut tree demonstration farms of between five to 10 acres each at identifiable locations in the three northern regions.
The grant was to be disbursed to Savana Plantations by the Shea Unit of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) whiles Crop Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) at Bole was to undertake technical supervision of the project.
In an interview, Mr Issah Sulemana, Chief Executive Officer of Savana Plantations said “the project is almost at collapsing stage” explaining that funding was not forthcoming.
Mr Sulemana said Savana Plantations had pre-financed the project to the tune of over 1.2 million Ghana Cedis, but had so far been paid less than 900,000.00 Ghana Cedis, making it difficult for the company to acquire necessary equipment to sustain the project.
He mentioned tractors, vehicles, poly-tanks, water pumping machines, fungicide and insecticide, labour cost and fire protection structures as equipment needed to sustain the project.
When contacted, Mr Vincent Anchrinaa, Manager of the Shea Unit of COCOBOD said stakeholders including COCOBOD, CRIG, and National Steering Committee on Shea were not satisfied with the level of work done by Savana Plantations compared to the amount of money disbursed to it hence the decision to stop funding the project.
Mr Anchrinaa said money would be released to Savana Plantation when there was proof that it had done a good job commensurate with the amount of money it would be seeking to collect.