AS FEDERAL government intensifies efforts at diversifying the economy, Nigerian Export, Import Bank, Nexim, has reiterated its willingness to continue to provide funding to reposition agricultural products in the subsector, like Shea butter which is a vast foreign exchange spinner. Acting Managing Director of the Bank, Bashir Wali who gave the indication when the House of Representatives committee on banking and finance along with NEXIM’s management visited Lad group Shea butter factory in Ogun state, noted that the bank was willing to intervene and invest in the massive production of Shea butter in Nigeria because of the high demand both locally and internationally of the product as well as the foreign exchange revenue benefit it has. He stated, “The interest of NEXIM Bank in Shea Nut processing for export was borne out of the very high demand for Shea Butter with the impressive potentials for foreign exchange revenue stream as well as massive job creation at various levels of its value chain. Poised to improve production of Shea butter in Nigeria reported to have a global demand worth $10billion and a projection of more than $30billion by 2020, the bank, says besides being a foreign exchange revenue base for the country, as well as providing jobs for the teeming Nigerians youths. According to him, ”the global demand for Shea Butter is worth about $10billion and is projected to be more than $30billion by 2020, hence the interest of NEXIM in providing funding for increased proactive measures to reposition agricultural products such as Shea as part of its nonoil export sector interventions in the agro-processing sub-sector. He explained that an estimated 680,000 metric tons of Shea Nuts were produced annually in West Africa, with about 56% of the Nuts exported, while the remaining is consumed locally. For Nigeria, he disclosed that available data shows that the country was the world largest producer of Shea with the wildly grown Shea trees predominant in 21 states across the country. “This accounts for over 53 percent (or 370,000 MT) of the production in West Africa as confirmed by the reports of the CBN and Oil Seeds Association of Nigeria, OSAN. Sadly, nearly N345 million is lost in the smuggling of Shea products out of the country every year’’ he said. Citing available statistics, Wali said that nearly 2 billion Shea trees grow naturally on parklands in 21 African countries stretching from Senegal to South Sudan, including Nigeria, with more than 16,000,000 women living in rural communities individually collecting the fresh fruits and the kernel which they process to extract a healthy vegetable oil known as “Shea Butter.” “With an approximately 600,000 tons collected each year, the industry provides a critical source of jobs and incomes to millions of often poor and underserved communities” Wali also disclosed. Meanwhile the House of Representatives has commended the bank for its relentless contribution to the Nigerian non-oil export sector, especially in funding factories such as Ladgroup Limited and called for increased funding of the bank by the feral government.

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