In our second blog about key people who make a remarkable contribution within the shea supply chain, we talk to Alidu Tia, supply chain officer for Bunge Loders Croklaan in Tamale, Northern Ghana. He tells us about Bunge Loders Croklaan’s efforts to conserve and protect the shea parklands through their partnership with Eco Restore, a Ghanaian agri-business start-up.
The shea tree, native to the West African savannah, is a wild harvest crop and gives us the all-encompassing shea butter that is known the world over for its array of nourishing properties. More fondly known as the ‘tree of life’, shea is the wind beneath the wings of the communities in its place of origin. Conserving and creating a sustainable future for the landscape is of vital importance for several reasons.
Bunge Loders Croklaan (BLC) plays an important role in the sourcing and processing of shea, and with that, comes their commitment to minimize environmental impact.
The man tasked with the important role of driving these sustainability initiatives is a native of the land and feels personally responsible. He says without a moment’s hesitation, “We believe the only way to build a better tomorrow for shea communities is by being deeply committed to their growth and prosperity.”
Alidu paints a vivid picture to illustrate his point. He says, “For a long time, crop yields in Northern Ghana were good and forest cover was abundant. Over time, communities in the savanna ecological area have been confronted with issues like land degradation and loss of tree cover and soil productivity. Needless to say, we are protective of the women who are dependent on shea for their livelihoods. This is where Eco Restore comes into the picture.”
Breathing life into the savannah Parklands
Eco Restore is a Ghanaian agri-business start-up. BLC partnered with them to plant 6,000 trees in 2020 around the Nasia community in Northern Ghana and to support their goal to restore millions of hectares of savannah parkland across West Africa in collaboration with the local communities.
The initiative is part of BLC’s commitments to conserve the savanna and in line with the Action for Shea Parklands (ASP), an action plan by the Global Shea Alliance aimed at protecting shea resources and empowering women collectors and processors.
Alidu reflects, “Of course it is in our interest to secure the availability of shea, but it is also important for us to source products with a clear conscience.”
Teamwork makes a dream work
The collaboration between BLC and Eco Restore involves as many as 300 local people – men and women – who have been trained to plant and nurture the seedlings to guarantee fast fruition. We monitor the trees and ensure their survival, in order to guarantee positive impact on the landscape.
70% of the trees planted will be shea and the other 30% will be mixed native non-timber forest product (NTFP) and wood-fuel species. Some of the latter are fruit trees, that not only provide food to local communities but also support birdlife, thus increasing the bird population in the area for a more balanced ecosystem.
Determination and ambition
“We are projecting to plant 12,000 trees in 2021. Our goals are ambitious, and success will require organizational growth and community-wide support, which we are more than happy to give. It is certainly an exciting collaboration!”
“Our commitment extends beyond merely planting the trees with much of our effort focused on maintenance and monitoring, making sure the seedlings grow and the trees remain healthy. This is a long-term commitment no doubt."