Historical projects with shea butter producers in northern Ghana

Current Farmers' Voice Radio programmes targeting shea nut collectors and butter producers in northern Ghana are informed by two previous projects that ended in 2021. Results and learning from these projects - which were implemented in partnership with Tungteiya Women's Association and CARE Ghana - are described below

 
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OPEN SOURCE FARMERS' VOICE RADIO IN GHANA
 
Tempane & East Mamprusi Districts Northern Ghana

Partners:

CARE International and GBC-URA Radio

Donors:

UK Aid Direct SCCF, Prince of Wales Charitable Fund, The Gibbs Trust,

Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust, Ashworth Charitable Trust and the W. F Southall Trust

When:

April 2019-Dec 2020

Target Audience:

Shea nut pickers and shea butter processing communities

Radio Station:

URA Radio, 89.7 MHz 

Project Overview and Results:

This Farmers' Voice Radio project aimed to provide smallholder farmers in northern Ghana with improved, ongoing access to relevant and timely information that will help them to grow their agri-businesses in a sustainable way. The project follows on from the BRAVE climate resilience project in the region and responded directly to a request from female listeners of the ‘Farmer and the Water’ radio programmes to receive more information on shea nut gathering and the production of shea butter – a highly desirable ingredient used in many food, cosmetic and hair products, as well as being a staple in local cooking. The UK Aid funding contributed to Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes in 3 local languages, Kusaal (on URA FM), Mampruli (on URA FM) and Dagbani (on Savannah FM). The programme series on Savannah FM was match funded by The Body Shop and is summarised below.

Farmers' Voice Radio brought together shea nut gatherers and butter processors in East Mamprusi and Tempane districts, along with local extension officers, sector experts and radio presenters, to produce radio programmes that provided the right information needed by the women, at the right time of year and in the local languages spoken in this area. Topics included how to avoid snakebites when collecting; when and how shea nuts should be collected to get the best quality; how to protect shea seedlings; alternative wood fuel strategies to tree cutting; how to process quality shea butter; and the different markets for selling shea. 

The project evaluation demonstrated that the radio programmes broadcast on URA FM contributed to improved knowledge, attitudes and practices related to shea nut picking and shea butter processing for 6,000 people in East Mamprusi and Tempane districts. A regional health survey found that 146,600 rural people were listening to the URA FM Farmers’ Voice Radio programmes, however this figure is likely to be far higher as the radio stations estimate their listenership at over a million people.

As shea processing is a woman’s activity, women were the principal beneficiaries of this project. The endline survey enabled us to gather data to demonstrate that this improved access to information led to the following achievements:

  • Increased knowledge on shea nut picking, processing and storage, improving shea nut quality and sales. There was a 38% increase in volume of shea nuts sold.

  • Increased shea butter production, particularly in Jawani and Tariganga (the focus communities of this project), adding value to the product. The number of women processing shea butter grew from 6% to 37.5%, increasing total sales from 40kg to 4765kg.

  • Improvement in the health and safety of shea nut pickers and butter processors. The use of boots during shea collection increased from 6% to 49%, preventing snake bites and other dangers. There was a corresponding decrease in injuries whilst picking shea (from 78% to 59%) and processing shea butter (from 40% to 27.5%).

  • More strategic marketing, including the formation of an association, which enables access to better prices and year-round income.

  • Improved protection of the shea parklands, demonstrated by increased shea tree planting, shea tree protection and decrease in bush burning.

 

An example of how improved knowledge helps smallholders grow their agri-businesses comes from Safura, “I didn't know how to process the nuts very well to get very good nuts. I didn't know that the quality of the nuts will determine the price they will buy it. But I got to know that there is a way you are supposed to process the nuts to get good quality nuts and that will improve upon the price you can sell them”.

Improved knowledge on storage and collective marketing is enabling women to sell shea nuts throughout the year to ensure the best price. Celestina explains “We have formed ourselves into groups and we keep it or store it for some time. When the price is up, we then call some people […] whether I have one bowl, one bag, two bags, everybody will bring it together. Now we don't sell it, like sending it to market women to use the bowls and cheat us”

The project also impacted on gender equality in the region, through empowering women and strengthening their livelihoods through shea. Celestina, a LG member, explained how she has gained confidence to impart her knowledge about shea to other women in her community: “After the programme, people do listen and come to me, ‘Oh, I've heard your voice on this place’. So, through that it has encouraged me to talk to people in public [and] I don't feel shy again”.

The project expanded its reach and impact through the involvement of Tungteiya Women’s Association and The Body Shop (see below), who joined forces to bring in a second radio station that covered a third region and language group. This collaboration significantly increased the profile of Farmers’ Voice Radio in Ghana and within the shea sector, and will contribute to the ongoing rollout of Farmers’ Voice Radio in Ghana.

The five organisations that partnered in this project are confident in delivering Farmers’ Voice Radio and they all intend to incorporate participatory radio in their ongoing engagement strategies with smallholder farmers, which is demonstrated by new projects and proposals that have been developed. As a result of the project, at least three other organisations explored launching new Farmers’ Voice Radio projects in Ghana. One organisation, Teach 2 Teach International, are now using radio as part of their key interventions. The open-source Farmers’ Voice Radio online platform was also launched and the resource page is being accessed by radio broadcasters and local partners across Ghana, and other parts of the world.

The Ghana project closed in March this year and received a grade A+ from UK Aid in recognition of outcomes having exceeded expectations. UK Aid feedback stated: “Beyond demonstrating having reached a high number of listeners, the grant holder can be commended for the engagement of listeners both to design and interact with radio programs, demonstrating strong accountability towards beneficiaries and a high level of buy-in. Moreover, both qualitative and quantitative evidence was provided on the effective impact of radio shows to change farming practices and on the already measurable changes for beneficiaries having adopted these, with increased production volumes and quality for instance.”

 
Interview with Tungteiya Shea Butter Pro

FARMERS' VOICE RADIO FOR SHEA NUT COLLECTORS AND BUTTER PROCESSORS WITH TUNGTEIYA WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION

 

Northern Region 

Ghana

Partners: 

Tungteiya Women’s Association

Donors: 

The Body Shop and UK Aid Direct SCCF

When: 

January 2020- April 2021

Target audience: 

Shea nut pickers and shea butter processing communities across Northern Region

 

Radio Programme: 

‘Kpihi Saha’ = ‘Shea time’ on Radio Savannah 91.3 Mhz

Project overview and results:

This Farmers’ Voice Radio project was developed in partnership with Tungteiya Women’s Association and The Body Shop, with the aim of strengthening the sustainability of the shea supply chain in northern Ghana, with a particular focus on women’s empowerment and the climate resilience of rural shea-producing communities.

Tungteiya Women’s Association has been The Body Shop’s supplier of shea butter since 1994, sourced through The Body Shop’s Community Fair Trade programme. They have 640 women members living in 11 villages across Northern Ghana. Each year Tungteiya’s members produce 390 tons of the highest quality shea butter using traditional and sustainable techniques. In addition to the shea butter producers, Tungteiya works with around 11,000 women shea nut collectors across the region. 

Farmers’ Voice Radio worked with Tungteiya and local radio station, Savannah FM, to produce nine months of radio programmes, called Kpihi Saha (shea time). The radio programmes were broadcast twice weekly in Dagbani language, at a time that was convenient for the shea producers.  The project reached around 3,500 women in 3 target shea producing communities in the Northern Region, however we know that many more people were also reached across the region. The radio programmes centred on quality processing of shea nuts and butter and shea parkland protection and regeneration, but also adapted to newly emerging challenges (such as broadcasting COVID 19 advice) and feedback from stakeholders. The evaluation showed clear evidence of positive changes in practices related to quality shea nut processing, health and safety measures, storage practices, shea tree protection and shea parkland restoration.  This is demonstrated by the below quote from Zeinab, a shea producer:

Zeinab, Mbanayili, “I didn’t know they collect shea butter and filter it, I heard it from Kpihi Saha, then got to know they filter shea butter into a pan to make it clean, I didn’t know if you process butter you will store it in a clean room, or put it in clean containers, for dirt not to fall into the butter, I learned all that from Kpihi Saha”

Farmers’ Voice Radio empowered women shea nut workers in the region; their voices were raised to address the issues that they were facing in their shea production, and women listeners commented that hearing their peers on the radio programmes gave them the confidence to try new practices. There was also an increase in men’s involvement in shea activities, which was largely seen as positive as it reduces the burden on women. Salamatu explains how improving her shea business, impacts on the rest of her family:

Salamatu, Dimabi “Our attitude towards storing our nuts and harvests have changed. We used not to store our nuts and harvests. We used to consume or sell early and suffer later. Now we store and sell later to make profit […] They will notice changes in our lives, especially my children going to school because of the improvement in my business.”

In terms of climate resilience, the Farmers’ Voice Radio instigated changes in deforestation practices and promoted the protection and restoration of the shea parklands, with a notable reduction in the cutting of shea trees and an increase in shea tree planting. The radio programmes coincided with Tungteiya’s face-to-face activities on the ground, which increased impact in the area. Sulemana explains the changes in practices related to the shea trees in her community:

Sulemana, Listener Group member “To be frank we have gotten great knowledge, initially when we were going to the bush and see a young shea tree, we cut it, we cut it because we don’t have firewood in this community, it is our firewood. Now we don’t, we now buy firewood to cook, if you go and see someone cutting shea tree in your farm you will quarrel with the person”

Learning was gathered from this pilot project for future Farmers’ Voice Radio activities in the region and other parts of the world. Key learning points were:

  • Communal Listening Sessions in target communities could enable more women to have access to the radio programmes. Women can listen to the programmes together, discuss the content and feed back to the project team.

  • Weekly market and pricing information would be helpful to the target audience and could be broadcast through a partnership with a shea price platform.

  • Face-to-face interventions and training on health and safety, marketing, business skills, cooperative development, income diversification would complement the radio programmes and deepen uptake of key messages.

  • It would be helpful for the radio programmes to be broadcast for a longer period and on two local radio stations, to capture a wider audience.

  • Community discussion and advocacy with community leaders, decision makers and stakeholders would further the engagement on issues such as access to shea trees, competition with pickers and shea parkland protection.