Essay about Shea Butter and World Trade

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Trees not only have the capability of bringing majestic beauty to a landscape, they also have the ability to sustain the livelihood of individuals from the small seeds they provide. Traditionally trees have been felled to make timber, but the Shea tree through the development of seeds has the potential to develop into a major export item. Shea Butter comes from the seeds of the Shea tree which can be used in the manufacture of food items, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. The moisturizing and healing properties of Shea butter have been discovered by western cosmetic industries in recent years, but Shea butter has been in use in African society for centuries. The Shea butter is gathered by women and young children and involves tedious labor…show more content…
As with any other commodity, especially one that must be grown, there are obstacles to trading such a commodity. “The export of Shea from West Africa has seen a spectacular expansion over the last 10 years: An increase of over 600%. However, the sector still must overcome issues including variable Shea butter quality, rudimentary production processes and low awareness among international buyers (West Africa Hub Annual Report).” This low awareness of the product can serve as a major obstacle to trade. With the product only being marketed in Africa, the butter will have uncertain prices and production may not be as high as it would if it were being produced and sold on the international market. As more people become conscious of the unique properties of Shea butter, the demand for this product increases. This gradually increasing demand can place a strain on the trees and these trees have unpredictable yields, with one year producing an excellent yield and the other a poor yield. Because Shea butter is a relatively recent discovery to the cosmetic industry, Western cosmetic companies are only now beginning to realize the potential of the product. The way the Shea butter is produced from the nuts can also hamper the potential of the product being traded on a large-scale and at the international level. The butter if produced fully by hand to ensure a high quality, but this requires several hours and therefore it will take a considerable amount of time to
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