Optimizing the Gains in Shea Trade for Poverty Reduction among Women in Northern Ghana
The shea tree is regarded as the most important economic tree in Northern Ghana. With the unreliability of rain-fed agriculture in the area, shea nut trade by rural women is regarded as an opening for alternative source of household income. At the same time, over the past decades, there has been an increasing demand for shea nut in the international markets. This has attracted both Governmental and Non-Governmental actors to develop the shea nut industry for poverty reduction. Using mainly qualitative data from interviews, focus group discussions and observation, this paper examines the supply-chain dynamics in the shea nut trade in northern Ghana with the aim of providing policy guidelines for the way forward. The results show that middle-men in shea nut trade are the main beneficiaries to the detriment of rural women (pickers). It concludes that
there can be no sustainable effort at targeting the shea industry for poverty reduction without political commitment, implementation of clear policy guidelines and development of the capacity of rural women.
Keywords: Shea trade, Women, Poverty, Northern Ghana