From Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
A women’s group in Ilota community of Ilorin South Local Government Area (LGA) of Kwara State has said that its members have the capacity to produce, at least, up to two tonnes of shea butter weekly, asking the state government to give it more support.
The group made this known recently during in an interactive session with the Senior Special Assistant to the Kwara State Governor on Community Intervention, Kayode Oyin-Zubair.
Spokesperson for the group, Mrs. Shukurat Sheriff, said they were happy to meet the governor’s aide, especially because of the foresightedness of Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
She said: “We appreciate the foresightedness of the governor to upscale local trade and vocations, particularly those (in areas) of comparative advantage. We don’t know how to do anything here other than ori (shea butter production). This is what our mothers have been doing from time immemorial.”
She noted that some of them benefitted from the last micro grants disbursed by the Aliko Dangote Foundation through the Kwara State government. But she pleaded for more support to upgrade their business.
“We also want you to get us off-takers, if we get off-takers, there is no demand we cannot meet. We have never let anyone down in the past on our capacity to deliver on any tonnage,” she said.
Responding, the governor’s aide reiterated the determination of the state government to bring development to all parts of Kwara State through the Community-Driven Rural Development (CDRD) initiative.
His words: “The desire of AbdulRazaq is that all parts of the state witness development, leaving no place behind. We have off-takers locally and abroad that are interested in what we do and they are willing to buy our products. We are working on a sustainable business model that will keep us in business while making better deals.
“We have established relationships here and there that can add value to what you are doing. The business acumen of the governor is really helping us because he is more interested in lifting more people out of poverty through investments like this.”
In Kwara, shea butter processing has been known to be domiciled in Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Ifelodun, Moro, Kaiama and Baruten LGAs. There are more than 1,500 cottage industries where shea butter is processed in the state. Many of the women process the seed from their homes. Hence the plan of the governor to form women’s cooperatives to establish of a modern shea butter farming unit and centralised shea butter processing factory.
The nuts are boiled to prevent germination and dried for a few days and are later shelled, cleaned and properly dried to not more than 7 per cent moisture content. The refining process includes melting, de-gumming, drying, bleaching, earth treatment, filtering, deodorizing, packaging and labelling. Shea butter is ideal for use as raw materials in cosmetics, soaps and detergents, personal care formulations to prevent and repair skin, scalp, hair dryness and cracks such as moisturizing skin products, makeup (lipstick and liquid makeup), as well as hair care products such as shampoo and conditioners.
In addition, it is used a lot in massaging of muscle and bones. Women use it during pregnancy to prevent stretch marks and keep firm muscles. It is also used on babies for healthy, smooth skin.
The process used to be laborious until the International Labour Organization introduced a milking machine to one of the women’s groups in Lade in 1988, which was copied by other groups in the state. Other challenges in processing are extraction, steaming and cold pressure.
The group later visited the palace of the Olota of Ilota, Alhaji Momonu Olarewaju, who also commended AbdulRazaq for initiating such a poverty alleviation programme, while also pledging the support of his people for his administration at all times.