The demand for Shea butter products in the northern part of Ghana is growing in leaps and bounds due to the onset of the northeast trade winds known as harmattan season.
The northeast trade winds usually begin from November through to March, blowing dry wind and affecting visibility. However, due to climate change, the harmattan season is now starting to be more intense in the northern part of the country.
During this season most people experience extreme dryness of the skin with others developing cracks on theirs lips and undersurface of the foot, an extremely painful and discomforting experience.
To reduce the harmattan’s impact, people resort to using shea butter as pomade during this time of the year. As a result, some traders of Shea butter products have strategically positioned themselves to cash in on the high demand.
A visit by the B&FT to Tamale Central and Aboabo markets within the Tamale Metropolis saw most traders taking advantage of the season, with prices ranging GH₵1.00 for small quantity to GH₵50.00 for about 3.5 kilos of shea butter.
A Shea butter vendor at Tamale Central Market, Maltiti Ibrahim, said the commodity was previously experiencing low patronage but with the harmattan now, demand has shot up and expected to increase as time goes on.
“Since last week, I have been recording more sells than the usual peak season before the Christmas break. We are making more profit from it,” she said, adding that 25 kilos of shea butter which used to sell at GH₵230 now goes for GH₵250.
Zenab Musah, another Shea butter dealer corroborated that demand for the product has increased over the last few days due to the weather condition. “We hope to make some good sales before the departure of the harmattan because this is our only source of livelihoods.”
Shea butter, locally known as ‘nkuto’ is a slightly yellowish or ivory-coloured natural fat extracted from fruit of the Shea tree by crushing and boiling the nuts.
It is produced from shea nuts of the Karite trees. It is used to produce body cream products, among others. The commodity, which can be an important exporting earner for Ghana, is mostly grown and produced in the northern part of Ghana.