A nut saved today is worth three tomorrow: Proper storage and collective action allow the women of Bamboi to invest in their future
The storage room of the Norntoma Women’s Cooperative is filling up with 85kg jute sacks of dried shea nuts harvested this season from the tall, grassy Ghanaian savannah, just as the motor of the grinding mill kicks into action at the cooperative center for the first time. The women, who up until last year, ground the shea by hand will now use the grinding mill to reduce time, labor and losses in the processing of the shea butter; While the grinding mill may seem like the biggest success of the season, what is really impressive is the women’s new found ability to save nuts.
In Bamboi, like many places supplying raw agricultural commodities to the international market, farmers and harvesters sell their harvest immediately, only when the prices are at their lowest due to the abundance. The women of Norntoma have historically had a hard time holding out for prices of their commodities to grow as supply diminishes outside of harvest season, even though the demand remains relatively stable due to the desire for shea products year round. Lack of consistent liquid capital and lack of infrastructure to dry and store shea nuts without risk of mold or pest damage has been a barrier for these small scale producers to hold onto to their harvest until the market is more favorable.
The need to feed ones family today has allowed the sea of middlemen and aggregators to offer a fraction of the market price impeding the farmers from fully participating in the world market and receiving the true value for their product. Despite these challenges, the women of the Norntoma Cooperative have seen enough success in the demand for their products, that they are now collectivizing their harvest of shea in order to boost their profits from selling nuts later in the year at peak price, or from the sale of value added products such as butter, soap and pomade. The power of the collective is directly contributing to the women’s ability to do long-term planning and increase their wealth.
We are proud that through our fundraising and direct action, BamCashea has helped the cooperative to establish a secure and properly aerated storage space, and a drying platform to protect the hard earned, harvested investments. Without these investments, the collective decision of the Nortnoma Cooperative to ensure the market works for them would have been much more difficult.
So what’s next? While we have been successful in the acquisition of the mill, it’s sustainability will be contingent on the ability to protect and maintain the equipment. Currently 2 cooperative membersare training to become mill operators which keeps profits within the cooperative and keeps operations female run. ,In addition,the mill is manufactured locally so repairs should be simple and timely.. This leaves only structural integrity and maintenance, both of which could use some help. Without the consistent upkeep of the mill, the success of the Norntoma Cooperative could be short-lived.
CAN YOU HELP?
We need about 200 USD for materials to finish the mill structure that will protect their equipment from the weather and any tampering that would negatively impact their ability to process!
Want a wood panel with your name on it? Let’s do it! For a small donation of $40 we’ll include your name and/or a message for the women of the Norntoma Cooperative on the structure itself. We appreciate your contribution.
Donations to BamCashea
Any funds not spent to encase the mill, will go to purchase other items for the women’s cooperative to be successful in the processing and sale of value added, native resource derived products such as: small containers to increase their profits per volume of shea product and wages for traveling saleswomen to broaden the reach of their products throughout Ghana.
You can be a part of the grassroots change today for pennies on the dollar for impact. Join us for good at BamCashea.org.