ASSESSMENT OF SHEA FRUIT PROCESSORS IN NIGER STATE FOR IMPROVED LIVELIHOOD AND ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITIES
The Shea tree is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, and generally found in semi-arid to arid north of the humid forest zone. Shea fruit processing is a common production activity in rural areas of Niger State. This study aimed at having an overview of Shea fruit processors as a means of identifying areas of intervention for improved productivity and their livelihood. Specific objectives were to assess the socio-economic characteristics, ascertain average monthly income from Shea processing, identify sources of labour for Shea processing, examine the social infrastructures available to processors, assess the production capacity of the processors and determine constraints to Shea butter production activities in the study area. A multi-stage sampling technique was employed to select 80 Shea butter processors for the study while a well structured questionnaire was used for data collection. The study revealed that the respondents, all women, were married (96.1%) and within their active ages. The women all belong to one or more groups. Main sources of labour for processing of Shea butter were Family (75%) and communal (65.8%); All the respondents find the current Shea butter processing methods difficult. Chi-square analysis indicates that respondents years of experience in processing (?2 = 17.18; p < 0.05) and household size (?2 = 12.79; p < 0.05) have significant association with respondents level of butter production. The study therefore calls for better exposure of the processors through entrepreneurial skill acquisition scheme, to improved technique of Shea processing for better quality nuts/ butter production and principles of agribusiness.
Shea tree, rural livelihood, Shea processing, Quality nuts/butter, Ready market.
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