Empowering women through shea butter production in Northern Ghana
The women of the village of Pusu Namogo close to Bolgatanga in the North of Ghana have always been collecting and manually processing shea nuts for their private use as a nutrious cooking oil and as cosmetic butter. The shea nut trees are collectively owned by the community, yet processing the harvest is an exclusive women’s right. Having founded the Akoma cooperative in 2008, selling traditionally processed shea butter is now their main source of income. As a unique economic resource, shea butter is referred to as “women’s gold.”
After harvesting, the big shea fruits are boiled and peeled to retrieve the nuts which then will be stored. For shea butter production, the washed and dried nuts are crushed mechanically and then roasted for hours over open fires. Having been milled, the chocolate-like paste is kneaded with water added to separate the butter. The fat is boiled, the oil filtered, cooled and stirred until the solid, sweet smelling butter is obtained.
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