The Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), an international economic development organization has constructed and handed over three shea butter processing centres to three women groups in the Kassena-Nankana West (KNW) District of the Upper East Region.
The processing centres, which cost about GH¢220,000.00 are equipped with processing machines such as crashers, kneaders, millers, roasters and some accessories among others.
They are installed at Nakolo-Bugani, Kuliyaa and Kazigu communities, for the BURU Cooperative Union, a union of different shea butter processing groups in the area.
Speaking at the commissioning of the centres, Robert E. Austin, Country Director, MEDA, said the project had funding from the government of Canada under the Merchant Grant Agreement and provided GH¢86,000.00 cash out of the total cost, while the remaining GH¢134,000.00 was contributed by the Buru Cooperative Union through labour and other resources.
He said MEDA as a Canadian development organization had the vision of empowering people especially rural communities to establish and sustain their own businesses that would empower them economically and contribute to reducing poverty.
Mr Austin explained that the project, which started about two years ago was born out of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between BURU Cooperative Union and MEDA after BURU Cooperative union was among 10 groups selected out of 100 shortlisted groups across northern Ghana.
The Country Director said the aim of the support was to enable the women to increase their production from the current 20 metric tonnes to 80 metric tonnes per season.
This, he underscored, would help bridge the challenges confronting women empowerment and enable them to contribute to national development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said apart from the 10 groups from the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions, which were supported under the shea component, MEDA had further supported about 25 groups to set up cashew nursery operations.
He urged the women groups to continue to keep good records and establish a maintenance fund, which could be used to repair broken machines and kept as a development fund to provide other needs to expand their business.
Mr Julius Awaregya, the Executive Director of the Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability (ORGIIS), a local NGO with focus on environment, expressed gratitude to MEDA for the support and explained that the processing centres would help the women to produce quality shea butter to meet international market demand.
He said women were critical stakeholders to national development and therefore it was imperative for efforts to be channeled to empower them to increase their income levels to contribute to reduce poverty.
He said ORGIIS Ghana had linked the women to a German company where they supplied a container of shea butter in 2020 and were in the process of supplying another container to the buying company.
Madam Regina Togiyiga, the Financial Secretary of the BURU Cooperative Union thanked ORGIIS and MEDA for the support over the years and noted that they would no longer transport their shea nuts to far places for processing.
She said the factories would open job opportunities for other women.
She however appealed to MEDA, ORGIIS Ghana and other organizations to assist them with a borehole to enable them have easy access to water to increase production.