Project Sheabutter from Burkina Faso
Since 2012 AOT has been supporting two women’s groups who are producing our top quality crude sheabutter by manual labour in Burkina Faso. This year I had the opportunity to get a personal impression of this country in West Africa and to experience the production of sheabutter on location.
The Women’s Gold
In Africa sheabutter is also called the women’s gold as the collection and processing of the shea nuts is traditionally the women’s task. And so the sheabutter secures the livelihood for thousands of women and families in one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 3000 women are collecting shea nuts around the capital Ouagadougou for our projects. The trees are 10 - 15 m tall and are growing on the women’s properties bearing fruit for over 100 years and thus providing material security for generations.
After collection the pulp is removed and the women boil, dry and crack the nuts in their homes. The subsequent production in small manufactories includes a variety of tasks whereby the women are provided with simple machinery to ease the hard physical labor. The nuts are washed, dried, broken, roasted and ground to gain a brown, grainy, viscous matter.
This matter is then diluted with water and whisked manually for up to an hour – a rather exhausting task. In the picture you see us start this procedure. The contained butter is separated, skimmed and then boiled until our crude sheabutter shines golden yellow.
The contained butter is separated, skimmed and then boiled until our crude sheabutter shines golden yellow.
Fair trade with aid in the right place
To experience this site was highly impressive and it was truly inspiring to see what the work in Burkina Faso actually means. Both projects act as charitable associations where the women are part of the enterprises aiming for welfare, poverty reduction, education and advancement. All this means a great challenge in a land like Burkina Faso. But the women’s initiative can be seen in many activities like establishing schools and developing their own cosmetic productions.
We from AOT will keep up our support of these committed and impressive women by paying fair prices and contribute to security and trust by reliable purchases. We also want to encourage their development and progress as much as possible.