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Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5752-5772; doi:10.3390/su7055752

The Evolution of Shea Butter's "Paradox of paradoxa" and the Potential Opportunity for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Improve Quality, Market Access and Women's Livelihoods across Rural Africa

1
Center for African Studies and Illinois Strategic International Partnerships, Office of the Associate Provost for International Affairs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Suite 401, MC-417, 507 E. Green Street, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
2
Production & Supply Chain, Savannah Nutrition Ltd., 15 Guilder Lane, SP1 1HW Salisbury, UK
3
Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 505 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Rachel J. C. Chen
Received: 31 January 2015 / Revised: 22 April 2015 / Accepted: 29 April 2015 / Published: 8 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Business and Development)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1376 KB, uploaded 8 May 2015]   |  

Abstract

Shea trees grow across 4 million km2 of sub-Saharan Africa. Shea parklands provide a sustainable source of edible fat (shea butter) that, in terms of volume, is currently second only to cocoa butter as a vegetal source of stearic acid in the multi-billion dollar chocolate and cosmetic sectors. However, in terms of international trade, shea has been opaque to consumers of edible products (where the majority of shea exports end their global journey) and actually only well-known in western markets as a cosmetic ingredient. The millions of women collectors have been disconnected from global supply chains, as the majority of their sheanuts are factory processed, supplied by traders who, in many cases, do not understand quality issues nor share knowledge with their village-based collectors—this is the “Paradox of paradoxa”. This review provides the background to this issue by contextualizing the industry and describing how weak post-harvest quality control impacts the shea supply chain. The paper then explains how this knowledge was incorporated into a 3D animation available for free transmission to rural African audiences and viewing on portable devices like video capable mobile phones. This tool offers the potential of low-cost multiple benefits to users, which we term here a win-cubed [win3] opportunity, where women collectors can receive free knowledge of using less resources to produce higher quality shea kernels which in turn offer higher extraction yields, lowering production costs, of a better and more marketable product. View Full-Text
Keywords: African women; shea butter; chocolates; cosmetics; post-harvest quality; ICT knowledge transfer African women; shea butter; chocolates; cosmetics; post-harvest quality; ICT knowledge transfer
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bello-Bravo, J.; Lovett, P.N.; Pittendrigh, B.R. The Evolution of Shea Butter's "Paradox of paradoxa" and the Potential Opportunity for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Improve Quality, Market Access and Women's Livelihoods across Rural Africa. Sustainability 2015, 7, 5752-5772.

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