NIGERIA – As part of its efforts to boost Shea Butter production, West Africa Soy Industries Limited (WASIL), a member of the Tropical General Investment (TGI) Group, has joined the Global Shea Alliance (GSA).

The company has also registered as a GSA sustainability partner, committing to boost local value addition and contribute to the sustainable development of the Nigerian shea sector.

GSA is a non-profit industry association with over 560 members from 35 countries, including women’s groups, brands and retailers, suppliers, and NGOs, headquartered in Accra, Ghana.

Through public-private partnerships, the alliance promotes industry sustainability, quality practices and standards, and demand for shea in food and cosmetics.

With WASIL joining the alliance, it is set to help Nigeria move up from its current status as the fourth exporter of shea butter in Africa, despite being the largest producing country.

Over the next two years, the TGI Group, through WASIL’s collaboration with the GSA, will support 10,000 women shea collectors and processors in the Niger, Kebbi and Kwara state.

The initiative will enhance the business skills of women, provide access to storage facilities, connect them directly to markets and build their capacity to manage the shea parklands effectively.

These efforts are part of the USAID-funded sustainable shea initiative, aiming to improve women’s market access and profitability.

Speaking on the deal, President of GSA, Simballa Sylla said, “We are very pleased to see industry leaders take action and invest in sustainability.

“This partnership will not only contribute to the development of the Nigeria shea butter sector but also to the achievement of the GSA’s 2020 -25 strategic objectives – to expand local value addition by 50% and empower over 500,000 women and improve community resilience. We truly look forward to an impactful partnership with TGI.”

Shea is a widely used plant-based fat ingredient in chocolate products, where it delivers texture and functionality.

Head of Sustainability at TGI, Osenaga Umobuarie remarked, “We are elated to join the GSA and we stand by our goal of promoting the sustainability of the shea sector through the empowerment of women collectors, parkland conservation and seedling planting.

“This project encompasses the sensitive areas that need attention and we are very pleased to work with GSA to impact positively the Shea industry and its beneficiaries.”

Upfield, the global leader in plant-based nutrition and the leading producer of plant-based margarines, spreads and cheeses also joined the alliance in March this year.

The producer of Blue Band and Flora brands, will work with its suppliers to implement the GSA’s sustainability principles in their shea sourcing supply chains in West Africa.

Some of these principles include enabling economic empowerment and increased income for collectors, improving the safety, health and welfare of collectors, respecting land tenure rights, protection of women collectors, implementing environmental protection and regeneration measures and improving traceability.

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