Within the next three years, no fewer than 30,000 women in Oyo State will benefit from an empowerment scheme of a non-governmental organisation, Shea Empowerment Foundation (SEF), in partnership with global players in the shea industry, with a view to optimising the potential in the value chain.
The initiative is aimed at promoting a sustainable business model for the women and youths in the shea and agricultural sector of Oyo State.
To actualise the goal, SEF, in partnership with Danida Market Development Partnerships (DMDP), AAK, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Global Shea Alliance (GSA) and National Shea Products Association of
Nigeria (NASPAN) with the support of the Oyo State government, facilitated a stakeholders’ engagement meeting to enlist the support of the relevant stakeholders with a view to highlighting operational challenges militating against the development of the industry.
Themed: ‘Developing the Shea Sector in Oyo State,’ the meeting created an avenue for all participants in the local and international shea industry to map out strategies for the implementation of best practices that would drive the development of a highly productive, diversified and market-led shea sector.
While speaking at the inauguration, the Executive Director of SEF, Mrs Mobola Sagoe, expressed optimism that the organisation and training of the local women in Oyo State would positively impact the local, state and national economies.
“If we train 1,000 women, they are supposed to go back and train maybe another 5,000 or more women. Sometimes, we have repeated training.
“The current project to be executed by SEF, with the strong support of international donor agencies, has as its objective the training of 30,000 women over the next three years in Oyo State with a specific focus on picking, aggregation, business skills development and parkland management with an average of circa 200 sessions per annum,” she said.
The Chief of Staff to the Governor of Oyo State, Chief Bisi Ilaka, commended the initiative, while he stressed that the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde was out to expand the economy of the state, adding that agriculture was one of the veritable tools to do so.
He pointed out that the shea sector would have a lot to do with women in terms of capacity building, saying that, they would be afforded training to pick process quality shea nuts that could compete globally with best global practices.
Ilaka said: “Lifting our people out of poverty should be the drive of any administration. A lot of women are involved in this sub-sector and this will improve their financial wellbeing and that will bode well for everybody in the state.
“We have challenges of mass unemployment in the state; this will also impact these figures, directly and indirectly.
“I hope this is the first of many other initiatives that will come to the state because it is important that we build up our people. The biggest resource we have in this state is our people, and if we make them better equipped to deal with the challenges, with the vicissitudes of life, it will bode well for us as a people in the state.”