GHANA – The government cocoa regulatory agency, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has opened a Shea Unit Office in Tamale to serve as an operational secretariat to develop the industry through supply chain in the region.

Meanwhile, the government is planning to set up a Shea Development Board by 2024 in a bid to transition the shea unit and a way forward for revamping the shea industry in the country.

The process will involve establishment of the Shea Unit and the National Steering Committee on Shea, the graduation of the Shea Unit to a subsidiary status by end of 2019, as a semi-autonomous institution under the COCOBOD, but with an increasingly independent source or stream of funding.

Also, the conversion of the Subsidiary into a Board, after putting in place a guaranteed self-funding scheme.

The first phase of the transition period has been completed, with the Shea Unit been created with an office in Accra and the National Steering Committee on Shea also established.

The Shea Unit together with the National Steering Committee formulated a 15-year development strategy, called the Shea Development Strategy (SHEDS 2014-2030), which will serve as the blueprint for the implementation of programmes for the development of the Shea sector.

According to GNA, the opening of the office was part of the programme to create a Shea Development Board for the shea sector, an article in the GNA reveals.

The unit, whose creation was backed by stakeholders in the industry will carry out operations not limited to research, extension, plantation development and preservation of the shea tree.

Speaking on the matter, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD said the Shea Unit had developed a strategic document, which was before the Board of Directors of COCOBOD awaiting further approval from the cabinet and parliament.

To enhance development of the shea sector in the country, the board would sponsor PhD research students to do research into the shea industry to help in coming up with ways to reduce the gestation period of the shea tree from the current 15-year period to as low as 18 months.

“We need to develop the downstream sector of the industry because collection of the nuts is not enough, we should go further and take greater advantage of the value of the industry,” added Aidoo.

Alhaji Abdel-Majeed Haroun, Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Development Authority (NDA) said they were committed to work to develop the shea industry as part of the government’s One-District One-Factory initiative.