Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has flagged off the planting of 3,000 Hybrid shea trees for economic transformation of the state.
The goal is to plant 10 million shea trees within a period of 10 years.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, Nigeria is the world largest producer of Shea nut, capable of producing 500,000 metric tons, with the wildly grown Shea trees predominant in 21 states across the country.
The Niger state governor says the state produces about 57% of Nigeria’s shea butter exports, which is why it is making shea production an area of priority.
In order to make Niger state a hub for Shea manufacturing the state government in collaboration with the National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN) is establishing a Shea Parkland Afforestation and Reforestation project in Nigeria
He explained that the global shea butter market has grown rapidly due to the increased demand in making confectioneries, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
There also are concerns over the indiscriminate felling of trees leading to depletion of the natural forest .
The chairman of National Shea Products Association of Nigeria says the Shea tree planting exercise will be domesticated to ensure that the Shea trees are owned by the people and is optimistic this will change the narrative.
The pilot scheme is starting with the planting of 3,000 trees at the Beji Parkland with the plan to extend to other local government areas in the state.
The shea trees have some distinctive features such as short gestation period of five to seven years from the traditional 15-20 years.