Kpihi Saha - Shea Time!
“When I listen [to Kpihi Saha], the next day when we are going to the dam to fetch water, I ask my colleagues what they heard on Radio Savannah about shea nuts. If they did not listen, I tell them what I heard last night and encourage them to listen. I tell my colleagues to listen to the programme.” Says Rachia, a listener from the Dimabi community (27km from the regional capital Tamale).
At the end of June 2020, the Kpihi Saha radio programme went live on Radio Savannah across the Northern Region of Ghana, to the target audience of 300,000 smallholder producers (although the radio station estimate they have up to 2.4 million listeners!). Kpihi Saha means Shea Time in the local language Dagbani, and this twice weekly radio programme is focussed on the concerns of the thousands of women shea nut collectors and shea butter producers in this part of northern Ghana.
Fuseina Seidu (in the picture above) is 62-years-old and mother of 6. Fuseina listens to Kpihi Saha and recently told us what shea has learnt from the radio programme. “I learnt a lot about how to pick the nuts safely and the primary processing of the nuts. I learnt that when you pick the nuts for three days, you boil it with moderate fire to process quality nuts. I also learnt about storage of the nuts; you look for wood to use as platform and store the nuts on it to prevent moisture from getting into the nuts. I also learnt that cutting shea trees is not good because you should not cut what you depend on as source of livelihood. So, I do not cut the shea trees anymore. We used to cut the shea trees to use as firewood.”
This Farmers’ Voice Radio project is a result of a collaboration between Tungteiya Women’s Association, a leading shea butter cooperative based in Tamale, Radio Savannah, The Body Shop, The Lorna Young Foundation (LYF) and UK Aid. The aim of the project is to strengthen the sustainability of the shea supply chain in northern Ghana, with a particular focus on women’s empowerment and climate resilience.
Virginia Sampaio is the Community Fair Trade Senior Buyer for The Body Shop and has been working closely with the LYF team. Virginia says “I am impressed by the impact the initiative has had on people’s understanding and attitudes towards the programme and topics of discussion. I have been fortunate to have been able to follow the project closely and to hear the feedback directly from the communities. They inform me that they learn a lot from the expert guided discussions in the programmes and that the topics were very much what they needed to hear. Radio is such a powerful communication tool! I have really enjoyed working with the LYF team (and I am sure that the listener groups do too!), they are very professional and knowledgeable.”
Like all Farmers’ Voice Radio projects, the radio programme content is generated by a Listener Group made up of 12 shea nut collectors and shea butter producers (11 women and 1 man!) who come together every month to discuss the principal issues, concerns and questions they have in their shea business. The group has discussed how to improve the quality of their shea nut collection and processing and how to increase the income they are receiving from shea, how the market is performing and how to protect and regenerate the shea parklands. Unsurprisingly the group also chose to discuss COVID 19, how they can carry on their work safely and the impact of the restrictions on their communities. All these discussions are edited in to 15-minute programmes that are broadcast twice weekly across the Northern Region in local language.
One of the key elements of these programmes is that they are raising the voices of the women shea producers and empowering women to find their own solutions to the challenges they face in making a sustainable living. Recent research has shown that 94% of women shea producers have not received any education and most survive on inadequate household incomes, putting them and their families at high risk of hunger during certain periods of each year. Women lack knowledge about the shea supply chain and the value of shea, and they have poor access to market information and technical services. While conditions have improved for the members of Tungteiya Women’s Association, this is not the case for other shea nut collectors and butter producers. This project seeks to connect women across the region with the information they need to make their shea business a success.
One listener to the programme, Nafisa, is already feeling these benefits, “I have done something differently because I used to run losses because I used to use a lot of shea nuts to make butter but the butter was also less compared to the quantity of nuts I used. But through the programme, I now know how to process my nuts well to get quality butter without running losses.”
Salamatu is 52 years old and she listens to the radio programme with the four women in her household. They put the radio set on a raised platform in their compound so everyone can listen. When asked if anything has changed as a result of the radio programmes Salamatu said “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.”
We look forward to hearing more about the radio programmes and their impact on the lives of women across Northern Ghana!