Shea Nuts

The Shea tree is found scattered in the West African savannah. It is not cultivated but found wild in these areas. It was discovered in the interiors of Mali in the 18th century and contributes significantly to the export earnings for Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso. In addition Nigeria, Benin and Togo are the other West African countries exporting sheanuts. The shea fruit, when it is ripe, falls off the tree and is then collected by members of a farmer's household and either boiled or roasted to extract the nut from the fruit.

The 'Sheanut' is crushed to extract sheabutter, which after further processing, is used as an ingredient in the manufacture of chocolate, as an equivalent for cocoa butter. It is also used in the manufacture of cosmetics and in parts of West Africa, as edible oil.

The exportable crop in a year is a function of the demand for sheanuts and the returns its gives to the farmers in the growing countries. The export of sheanuts from West Africa varies from 80,000 to 120,000 MT but it is estimated that the harvestable crop could be as high as 180,000 MT.
























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