Over 900, 000 women in rural Ghana are involved in Sheanuts and butter production. They freely pick the nuts from the wild; process them and then make different products. Every day, early in the morning the women go out into the fields to search and collect Shea nuts mostly regarded as gold for the women in the Northern region of the country.But the search is always one which is posed by great dangers from venous snakes like black mamba and the cobra aswell as poisonous spiders.
One of the women, Adissa Abubakari is a resident of Gushie one of the villages in the Northern region.She has done Shea nuts collection for long and though she is scared of the attacks from dangerous bites, she still goes to the fields to be able to put food on the table for her children as well as cater for their education. She heard about Just Shea,an organization which her late husband encouraged her to join and since joining she has not been frightened to go to the fields. Just Shea was established in 2000 by Danielle Warren an American.
Shea nuts in front view. The women gathered in a
meeting have collected the nuts from the fields.
“I had come to Ghana in 2008 to the South at the request of my father, he was working here and while here he had heard about the Shea tree, how it grows forever and ever, it’s this incredible miracle tree and it grows in the North here in Ghana,” Danielle recounts.
The Shea tree takes about 25 years to bear fruit and it blooms from June to July and cannot be cultivated. It bears dark green fruits which fall to the ground when ripe hence the women cannot take fruits from the tree rather than on the ground. Each fruit contains a nut with a solid white canal.“The situation here for women wouldn’t let me go so after three years of research and going back and forth between communities and corresponding with the advisers and agronomists here in Tamale, we started to develop a program which would bring an intervention that will be effective and sustainable, ” tells Daniella.
At the launch of Just Shea organization. Danielle Warren an American, is the
founder of Just Shea organization which helps the shea women of Ghana.
In collaboration with the community Daniella formed Just Shea, a social business created to increase the leverage, income and safety of women in Ghana.They give women boots, gloves and protective coats to wear while harvesting Shea nuts on the fields. In turn the women have to give Just Shea a sack full of Shea nuts in order to be given the protective gear. Just Shea sells the nuts to local women and in turn they make different products like chocolate, body oils and soaps with the paste that they process manually. The money acquired from the sales has been used to build silos for storage.
One of the local clients is Safia Al Hassan a teacher by profession but does Shea production as a side business. She recounts the long and arduous process of butter production which she has mastered over the years. “It takes about a week to process the nuts,” explains Safia.
Danielle and Fatima Zubair - project Manager of Just Shea, Ghanain looking
at the sacks full of shea nuts. Both women have dedicated their lives
towards helping the women of Ghana through collecting shea nuts.
Daniella and Fatma are thrilled that they have been able to use the little resources and the support from the community to make a difference in the women’s lives.
“It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a big impact. We don’t have fancy vehicles, a fancy office but we’re making impact,” tells Daniella.
“As a Ghanaian, I’m proud that I am in this organization and I am helping women to empower themselves and I am very happy with my job!” says Fatma.
A woman stirring shea nuts paste which is manually made.
Fatima (left), Adissa Abubakari - first place winner (centre) and
Danielle (right). Fatima and Danielle give prizes on a monthly basis
to the women who collected the highest amounts of shea nuts.