By Ikenna Uwadileke
Abuja, – The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), has expressed its commitment to consolidating prospects, potential and opportunities of the shea sector for export growth.
Dr Ezra Yakusak, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NEPC said this at the strategic conference and official inauguration of Shea Export Development Programme (2022-2025) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Yakusak described the programme as one of NEPC’s collaboration with Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), Netherlands on value chain development of priority non-oil export products.
According to him, the earlier partnerships with CBI is on Export Market Development Programme for SMEs exporters in three value chains; Cocoa, Cashew and Sesame and also the on-going Nigeria Sustainability Ginger Programme (2021 – 2025).
He said that the inauguration of the Shea project was in line with the Federal Government’s diversification agenda for non-oil export development.
“This project will focus on critical stakeholders and the intervention will contribute to making a paradigm shift from the export of raw unprocessed sheanuts to higher value-added shea products.
“The aspiration is to uniquely position shea products in the enormous global market which is driven by important factors such as rising consumer awareness, increasing demand for natural and organic cosmetics without preservatives and chemicals,’’ Yakusak said.
He said that NEPC in line with its mandate had been supporting the development of the shea industry in Nigeria from farm gate to internationalisation.
According to him, the council through Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has implemented the STDF Project 172 on expanding the exports of sesame seeds and Sheanuts/butter.
“This is through improved Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) capacity building for the private and public sectors,’’ he said.
According to Yakusak, as part of the sustainability component of the project and in order to scale up the knowledge and information acquired under the initiative, processing facilities have been established in four centres.
“Today, this led to the proliferation of best practices, traceability and investments in both small and large processing facilities across the country,’’ the NEPC boss said.
He assured stakeholders of NEPC’s proactive response to ensuring that they benefitted from the emergence and continuous demand for sustainable environment friendly and healthy products.
“NEPC through one of its flagship project `Go Global, Go for Certification’ facilitated Nigerian brands to secure organic, fair-trade and other certifications.
He said that NEPC through its product and market development activities exposed Nigerian brands in specialised and general trade fairs and conferences globally.
“This done in collaboration with strategic partners as Global Shea Alliance (GSA), International Trade Centre (ITC) SheTrades, West Africa Trade and Investment have yielded positive outcomes.
“Nigeria shea products visibly demonstrate a plethora of exotic diversified range from good grade healthy products to an aura of premium pharmaceutical skin care oils and lip balm.
“Others are innovative children care products and high quality butter that are visibly known and sought after in the export market.
“A lot is currently being done by NEPC to provide packaging solutions to small scale stakeholders to expedite their product penetration into the huge export market,’’ Yakusak said.
The Director, Policy and Strategy, NEPC, Mr Lawal Dalhatu said projects under the collaborations had been impactful as SMEs involved were players at the international market, specifically, the European market.
Dalhatu said that the success recorded at the initial programmes necessitated the strengthening of capacity as well as improve the lots of operators in the shea sector.
“This intervention we believe, will necessitate increased value and diversified markets through sustainability, improved quality, certification, organic production and refined processing,’’ he said. (NAN)