General News of Wednesday, 4 October 2017
The baobab tree is very common in the northern parts of the country.
Until now, the uses of this magnificent tree largely remained untapped. Some women in the Upper East Region, however, have now discovered ways to produce oil and other edible products from baobab.
Incidentally, poverty is rife in many of the areas where this magic tree abounds.
In this report, Albert Sore puts a spotlight on how baobab and shea nuts can positively transform such poverty-stricken communities through the exploitation of these plants.
At the craft centre at the Sokabisi community in Bolgatanga, women – most of whom are widows – engage in making all kinds of crafts.
Among them are some women who are able to produce oil, and flour for making ice-cream, beverages and toffees, all made from baobab fruits.
September is the lean season of the baobab tree. Fruits are unripe during this period and the women had taken a break from production. They, however, agree to do a little demonstration for Joy News during our visit.
First, they break the shell of the baobab fruit and take out the content. They then pound it and sieve to separate the seeds from the powder.
Victoria Abaa, a widow, at Sokabisi says; “We get oil from the seeds. The oil is very good for the skin and can treat rashes. We also use the flour for making ice-cream and beverages”.
The work demonstrated here is often done with larger quantities of baobab. The flour and the seeds the women obtain from here is taken to the Widows and Orphans Movement’s Oil Extraction Centre at Pusu-Namoo where the main production and packaging are done.
At the Kandinga community, another group of widows work in Shea processing.
Joy News met them steaming some crushed Shea nuts in a pot.
Once the work here is done, the product will be milled into a paste and taken through other processes to come out as Shea butter.
Rebecca Atogyange, one of the leaders of this group told Joy News that through the intervention of the Widows and Orphans’ Movement – a not-for-profit organization that supports widows and orphans – they learned better ways to do their business.
“When I started this Shea butter business, I did not know so much about it. We used to just manage to get by until the Widows and Orphans Movement came in” she says, adding; “they took us to Tamale to give us some training and when we returned, they brought some trainers to teach us some other things at Pusu-Namoo”.
The Widows and Orphans Movement’s Oil Extraction Centre located at Pusu-Namoo in the Talensi District, houses machines that complement the works of the widows and package their baobab and Shea produce into finished products.
Also on display, were the finished products from the hard work of the widows. They include cosmetic oils produced from baobab seeds, baobab powder for making ice-cream, smoothies and toffees. Others are body and hair creams from Shea butter.
Director of the Widows and Orphans’ Movement, Fati Abigail Abudulai, told Joy News all the products are certified by the Ghana Standards Authority. She adds’ “Baobab is rich in vitamin C”.
Ghana has signed to on the Sustainable Development Goals.These are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that United Nations member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies by the year 2030.
Sustainable Development Goal 1 focuses on ending poverty in all forms by the year 2030.
The Upper East Region is one of the poorest regions in Ghana, with women being the worst affected.
Baobab and Shea trees are abundant in every part of this region with varied economic potentials.
Atinampoka Aguriya, one of the women processing Shea at the Kandiga community tells us the business has been very beneficial for her as a widow. “Anytime my children need something for school, I am able to get it for them. Otherwise, they will run away from school” she says.
Currently, Four hundred and sixty-five (465) widows work directly in the baobab and Shea processing projects.
This is even when the processing plant here is currently using just a quarter of its capacity.
According to Fati Abdulai, at full capacity, a lot more women can be directly and indirectly employed under the project. She said; “if we are talking about poverty alleviation, baobab alone can touch the lives of these women directly in terms of reducing poverty”.
As Ghana pushes towards ending poverty and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1, the story of these women, offers government and other industry players a brilliant opportunity for creating massive employment if the right feasibility studies are conducted and the needed capital pushed into this emerging industry and avenue to end poverty.
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