According to him, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), which is supposed to implement policies for the growth of the industry, has focused on only cocoa.
Owing to the lack of clear-cut policies to develop the industry, Mr Zachariah said sheanut trees are currently being cut down and burnt for charcoal and other farming activities in certain communities in the three Northern regions.
Such a development will negatively affect the industry since sheanut trees grow naturally and not through human efforts, some players in the industry told BUSINESS GUIDE.
Globally, there is a high demand for by-products of sheanut due to their medicinal, cosmetic and nutritional values.
Speaking in an interview with this paper recently at Tamale, Mr Zachariah appealed to government to constitute a sheanut board in the Northern Region to help address the numerous challenges facing the industry.
He also called for an amendment of Act 571 of the Forestry Act to stop the felling of sheanut trees and other Non-Timber and Forest Products (NTFPs) to punish culprits just as cocoa.
“Shea-butter processing and extraction remains the major economic activity of most rural women. Given its medicinal, cosmetic and nutritional values, it is on high demand internationally and is exported to earn foreign income for rural women.
“We are therefore calling on government to give attention to the industry to benefit families which depend on the crop for sustenance.”
A shea butter processing factory was inaugurated by President John Mahama, then Vice President of Ghana, in 2010 in the Northern Region but since that time, there has not been any concrete steps taken by authorities to develop the industry.
In Ghana, the crop grows extensively in the Guinea savannah.
Sheanuts can be found in Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana covering landmass of about 77,670 square kilometers.
A few sheanut trees are also found in the Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and Volta regions in the southern parts of the country.