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Teaching Resources

Shea factfile

Commodity Shea
Country Côte d’Ivoire is a West African country with a population of 27,1 million. Fairtrade commodities originating there include cocoa, nuts, bananas and oils.
Background information Shea has been used to nourish skin for hundreds of years. Gorgeous, golden shea butter is moisturising, anti-inflammatory and vitamin rich.


Shea butter is fat that’s extracted from the nut of the shea tree. Shea trees grow in the wild from west to east Africa, an area known as the shea belt.


Around ten million women collect shea nuts for processing.


Social issues Collecting and processing shea is hazardous work, with long days and risks to their health.


Shea nuts are harvested from the trees, then sorted, crushed, roasted and ground. Producers then whip and separate shea butter by hand. It is a long, difficult, and skilled task, which is usually carried out by women producers.


And despite the demand for shea, the workers themselves often are unable to find a buyer for their shea.


Environmental issues Shea trees grow naturally in agroforestry landscapes, coexisting harmoniously with crops on small farms and parklands across 21 African nations.


Traditional hand-harvesting techniques do not harm the tree or the surrounding ecosystem, and with a lifespan of 200 to 300 years, shea forests are quite effective carbon sinks.


Research found that shea has an enormous potential to mitigate climate change in West Africa.


Why is Fairtrade important?


Buying products containing Fairtrade shea butter means the women earn a fairer price for their product.


They can use the extra Fairtrade Premium they receive to support their communities to thrive by investing in areas such as education and harvesting the wild shea in a forest-friendly way.


Where to buy Fairtrade Shea Afrocenchix, Earth Conscious, Amazon Aware, FAIR SQUARED, Honeystreet Handmade, Mumanu, Odylique, Primark Wellness Collection


Join us on Twitter at  @FairtradeUKEd