Annual International Shea Conference ‘Growing The Future – Strengthening Resilience And Restoration’

The Global Shea Alliance (GSA) is a not-for-profit industry association with over 660 members from 38 countries, including women’s groups, brands (cosmetics and food), retailers, suppliers, and NGOs.

Through public-private partnerships, GSA promotes enhanced quality standards and practices contributing to the sustainability of the industry.

This year, several companies like Agri Resources Group (a member of GSA since 2021, and currently developing sustainable sourcing and preservation projects in Ghana  and Benin) participated in the Annual International Shea Conference, a key event which was held from 6th  to 8th  June 2022 in Lomé with the theme ‘Growing the Future: strengthening Resilience and Restoration.’

This conference aimed to bring together industry leaders to talk about their areas of expertise and share their knowledge and experience. It also aimed to facilitate meetings between stakeholders in the shea industry and provide  SMEs the opportunity to showcase their products, as well as demonstrate the benefits of shea to attendees.

“This conference broadened my knowledge of interest in the shea sector and allowed me to link the theoretical knowledge that I have of the shea sector to a more concrete experience, thanks to direct exchanges with various stakeholders within the industry.” Priscilia AMOUSSOU, Agro-economist – Agri Resources Beni

The key points from the conference

The shea sector has weathered the global health crisis and proved resilient in the face of the social and economic challenges caused by COVID-19. Activities in the sector have effectively resumed with the reopening of economies and a gradual improvement in consumer confidence.

During the conference, various essential themes for the evolution of the shea sector were addressed by members of the round table. In conclusion, participants agreed that shea remains a strong and resilient commodity and worthy of continued investment.

New trends in the sector in terms of demand and opportunities

Jean-Arnaud Janvier, supply chain manager, Africa for Bunge Loders Croklaan recalled the innovative applications of shea in the food industry, noting that shea oil has the potential to become a premium commodity with its unique intrinsic properties and powerful sustainability identity.

Parfait Kouame, head of the shea business unit at Wilmar International presented the market trends in Asia, stating that shea is ideally positioned to take advantage of the growing cosmetics market in this region.

Osenaga Umobuarie, CSR Manager with TGI Agribusiness Group, presented   ‘’Opportunities for New Entrants in Adding Value’’, highlighting the advantages of  strengthening relationships with  chocolate manufacturers by demonstrating their ability to produce a superior butter quality. Concluding this theme, Thierry Somda, a national expert in business management, trade promotion and marketing, presented the trends in the regional consumption of shea butter.

Commercial challenges

The Honourable William Quaittoo, the first CEO of the Ghana Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) addressed the issue of trade barriers in Ghana and recalled that, in addition to the usual high trade costs, the Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor identifies and ranks barriers to shea trade in Africa according to domestic and non-tariff factors.

These trade barriers were also addressed in sub-themes. These included:

  • How to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area, presented by Iain Sandford of Sidley Austin LLP
  • The Ohada law: challenges and opportunities for cooperatives, presented by the economist Hien Magloire
  • The new corporate supply chain audit law in Germany and its impact on suppliers to the shea industry, presented by Stefanie Simon from the Delegation of German Industry and Trade in Ghana

Building community resilience through additional income opportunities

Anne-Sophie Dutat, the representative of Abomey Labs gave a presentation on how to use shea by-product to manufacture organic packaging for cosmetics. Other panellists discussed how to build community resilience through the integrated agriculture model and develop the future of shea through youth and technology.

Building Resilience Innovations in Park Restoration

Shannon Hess, the representative of Burt’s Bees started this session by explaining that it is possible to strengthen the resilience of communities through beekeeping. Thue Petersen, AAK Head of Sourcing and Logistics West Africa, in his presentation, stressed the importance of continuing to plant shea trees and moving towards improved cultivation methods.

New supply routes

Shea butter is typically associated with West Africa, but at this round table, other regions on the continent active in shea production were highlighted including Uganda, Guinea, South Sudan and Cameroon.

Building Resilience through the Carbon Industry

Arnaud Niesz, an energy and environmental engineer and representative of Nitidae presented the Agrovalor project which aims to implement solutions for better energy efficiency and waste management in the sector, including:

  • Double pot fireplaces (firewood saving of 30 to 50%, reduction in cooking time and reduction in smoke exposure)
  • An improved roaster for shea kernels using waste from its own processing (cake) (30 to 50% firewood saving, reduced exposure to fumes)
  • Oil cake briquette extruder (facilitated recovery of oil cake into biofuel)
  • Cake pyrolysis oven (Zero wood consumption)

In addition to Nitidae,other panellists addressed topics including:

  • Reducing firewood use and harmful air pollution in handmade shea butter, presented by Jeremy Su from Burn Design Lab
  • Legislation and carbon credits, presented by Dominic Coppens of Sidley Austin LLP
  • Carbon project: Opportunities for the shea industry in Africa, presented by Thomas Duffour

In conclusion of this series of panels and round tables, a team from the AGK presented the GSA projects in terms of promotion, quality, and sustainability

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