It had been a while, but there we were again, back in vibrant Ghana. This time, the visit seemed even more beautiful than the last. Ghanaians, with their radiant joy for life, make every encounter a heartwarming reunion.
Our journey took us to our partner The Savannah Fruit Company, and to the communities in Northern Ghana. And when we talk about 'communities,' we mean the incredibly hardworking women, because let's be honest, men... they don't work in shea production. In the past, it was because it didn't fit the status of a man to gather nuts and stir shea; nowadays, it's also because women prefer the men not to get involved. And rightly so, with improvements in the production process, the yield has increased, making women often the breadwinners. Hopefully, this also gives them more say in their family and community.
Butterwise places great value on personally meeting these women. To see the safety improvements, the changes that make the work easier, and of course, to meet the women who master the artisanal handcrafted method. With the help of our interpreter, we engage in conversations to gauge how these women, at the source of the product we love so much, are doing. It's incredible how shea, derived from the pit of a fallen fruit, eventually transforms into the nurturing substance that will be in your jar or tin.
The additional proceeds from Fair for Life Fairtrade go directly to these communities. Streetlights, wells, and water tanks are established, benefiting not only the women but the entire village or region.
In the north of Ghana, shea production is an artisanal, physical endeavor that's also quite social. While the women are busy mixing, there's a lot of chatting and laughter. You truly witness the community in action, neighbors chatting about their children, going over the day, and joking about the 'obruni' (us, the Butterwise visitors), all while stirring shea butter.
Over the years, the production process has evolved significantly. From a kettle over an open fire to brick ovens, and now even a rotating container to roast the shea! Progress has also been made in terms of fuel. Nowadays, the residual waste from the nut is dried and used as fuel for the ovens, meaning less waste and less gathering or cutting of wood.
Our partner shares and implements these improvements across the various communities. What's great about this is that the income is not taken away from the local communities but is used to support them. Tasks become lighter, easier, and safer. Water and firewood usage are minimized. All positive developments.
Preparing shea is truly something to be proud of. As a sign of respect for the women in these communities, we've brought along shirts that were eagerly received. A small gift from Butterwise as appreciation for the community.
All in all, it was a fantastic visit. We're already looking forward to the next time. Hopefully, you've traveled with us a bit through this story and the photos, and you feel as much love for the community behind the amazing products you find at Butterwise.
Team Butterwise (Jeroen)