- Shea nut trees grow widely and naturally in West Africa such as Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory cost, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin and Togo. The three grows between 15 to 20m high and begin to fruit after about 20 years of existence and it may continue to produce nuts for up to 200 years after reaching maturity.
- Inside the fruit is the nut that wraps a hard almond as well as a softer white almond. This one contains the fatty materials (butter) which is being processed as shea butter. The shea butter has been widely used for years in Africa for soap, cosmetic and as cooking oil.
- In Kwara State, shea butter processing has been found to be domicile in Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Ifelodun, Moro, Kaiama, Baruten LGAs. There are over 1500 cottage industries where shea butter is processed in Kwara State, Many of the women process the seed from their homes. Hence the plan of the Wife of the Kwara State Governor and Founding Trustee of the Kwara Well Being Trust (Alafia Kwara), Mrs. Oluwatoyin Saraki to commit a portion of the established Alafia Kwara Women’s Cooperative Farm to the establishment of a modern shea butter farming unit and centralized Shea butter processing factory to be named after the First Lady Federal Republic of Nigeria, Her Excellency Hajia (Dr) Turai Umaru Yar’a dua
- The nuts fall to the ground during the harvesting period (June until August). They are collected and allow the pulp to disintegrate. The nuts are boiled to prevent germination and dried for few days and are later shelled, cleaned and properly dried to 7% moisture content. The oil extraction could be done by solvent, steaming method or cold pressure. Our women who process shea butter at the rural areas uses the cold pressure method which are roasting, grinding, melting, centrifuge (neutralization). Collection of fat, frying and filtering. The refined process include melting, de-gumming, drying, bleaching, earth treatment, filtering, deodorizing, packaging and labeling.
Uses of shea butter
Shea butter is ideal for use as raw materials in cosmetics, soap and detergent.
- Personal care formulations to prevent and repair skin, scalp, hair dryness and cracks such as in: –
- Moisturizing skin products
- Makeup (lipstick and liquid makeup)
- Hair care products such as shampoo and conditioners.
- Cooking oil as food:
Women use shea butter for cooking as cooking oil for soup making or frying of food products.
- Medicine: –
– It is used a lot in massaging of muscle and bones.
– Women use it during pregnancy to prevent stretch marks and
keep firm muscles.
- Rub on babies for good smooth skin.
Processing method: – is labour intensive and calls for modern processing equipment that will remove or reduce the drudgery.
- It is pertinent to add that the process used to be laborious until when the International Labour Organization introduced milking machine to one of the women groups in Lade (1988) and this was copied by other groups in the state. Other areas of challenges in the processing are:-
- Cold pressure
- Even the Government can introduce all the machines required at once each step could be replaced with machines gradually until the drudgery is totally removed.
- Once the processing is removed more of the raw materials will be processed and this calls for more market outlets and increase in production, which in turn will be challenge to Government to in look into.
- Women are the sole processors of shea butter and the present processing method makes the women to age fast and most of their gains are lost to the middle men that are involve in the training.
List of some women co-operatives and farms for shea butter processing.
- Alafia Kwara Co-operative farm, Ode Giwa Asa Local Government Area.
- Agbaku eji shea butter processing farm Ilorin East Local Government
- Jabbi shea butter women co-operatives-Ilorin East
- Alapa Shea butter Industry- Asa Local Government
- Kaiama shea butter industry
- Gaa Alawaye Baruteen Local Government Shea butter industry
- Owoduni Shea butter industry Iludun Oke Ifelodun local government area
- Omo ode women co-operative shea butter processing industry, Ilorin South Local Government area among several others.