In Mali, collecting nuts of the native shea tree is popular among female farmers. After having eaten the sweet flesh, they sell the nuts directly, or they process them and sell shea butter and oil for food production and cosmetics. To strengthen this women-led sector, ICCO, USAID-Mali and two shea-oil companies supported more than 12,000 women harvesters by facilitating the certification of their shea products and by linking them to new markets.
Altogether, 25 women-led cooperatives received training to improve harvesting, boiling, drying, storing and packaging. They also enhanced their entrepreneurial and marketing skills. ‘They now produce better quality butter and oil, and know how to negotiate, giving them a better price’, says Jaap ’t Gilde from ICCO. The trained women cooperatives obtained long term contracts from the shea oil companies (SOATAF and Olvea), together with a 200 per cent increase in the shea price per kilo.
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