Notes to broadcasters
Shea butter is made from the fat of the shea nut. The shea nut tree grows in dry savannahs from West Africa eastward to Ethiopia. Shea nuts are traditionally used for the treatment of some diseases, as well as in cosmetics, for massage, for the production of soap, in many cultural practices, and to earn income to feed rural families in West Africa, and particularly in Mali.
The manufacture of improved shea butter, which is produced by women, is important for balancing family budgets. Rural women are the main actors in the whole shea nut industry, including harvest, processing and marketing. The collection of the nuts, the manufacturing of the nuts, the processing into butter, and the sale of products is an exclusively feminine domain. Rural women are also the main users of shea products.
But despite all these important uses, the processing of shea nuts remains limited. Improved processing of shea butter could increase the use of shea butter by women in cities. For most women in cities, even though shea is called “the king of butters,” the butter has a reputation of having a foul smell and other negative qualities that limit its sale.
To help improve the quality of shea butter in the town of Fana, in the Koulikoro Region of southwest Mali, Farm Radio International and Radio Fanaka conducted a radio campaign as part of the African Farm Radio Research Initiative. Thanks to this campaign, rural women learned a new method for preparing improved shea butter. In this script, through a series of interviews conducted in the villages of, Dien, Ballan and Wolodo in the Fana region, women’s groups explain to us the different steps in the preparation of improved shea butter, and how this technology has improved their lives.
The script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. In that case, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
Mariam Dao, Radio Fanaka’s host
Mariam Koné, reporter/journalist atL’Annonceurjournal
Mrs. Awa Traoré, farmer and vice-president of the women’s association of Wolodo village
Mrs. Mah Diarra, farmer and president of the women’s association of Ballan
Mrs. Sitan Fomba, farmer and deputy president of the women’s association of Dien
Mariam Koné is a journalist at the 100% femaleL’Annonceurjournal. Mrs. Koné conducted interviews with women from the villages of Ballan, Dien and Wolodo. In this program, she reports to women in Bamako and elsewhere how the lives of women in these three villages have been changed thanks to the new technique for producing shea butter. This new technique was publicized through a project in which Radio Fanaka collaborated with Farm Radio International’s African Farm Radio Research Initiative, or AFRRI. The women that Mrs. Koné interviewed are beneficiaries of this project. Let’s follow their story.Local song praising shea tree and its blessings. Then the furious rhythm of a tomtom welcomes reporter Mariam Koné to a village. Mariam’s beautiful voice, mixed with the noise of pestles, of singing birds, and of car engines, introduces us to the village of Wolodo.
After leaving the vehicle, I was welcomed by the president of the village women’s group, Mrs. Awa Traoré. With her were a large number of women and men, including the chief of the village, with an accompaniment of tomtom players. It was a festive atmosphere. Radio Fanaka had made an announcement the day before to inform the village of my arrival and ask villagers to give me a warm welcome. We are now under the palaver or meeting tree in the village of Wolodo. We are meeting with the women who produced improved shea butter this year. I’m starting my interviews by addressing Awa Traoré.Rhythmic hit of pestles on mortar up, then hold under the conversation
The women of the village were trained to manufacture improved butter. Radio Fanaka gave us radio sets and pre-paid units for our cellular phones so we could participate in the show – and especially so we could phone in and give our points of view. Never before had any radio station done anything like this. It should be said that we participated in every show! It was really an occasion for us to ask questions to the host on details of making improved shea butter that we had not understood.
Now we are at the last phase of making improved shea butter. We cook the dough on a wood fire at more than 100 degrees until we see clean and refined oil in the pot. We then strain the butter through a clean piece of cotton fabric. This straining operation is repeated up to five times to make sure that the butter is rid of any impurity. After that, we stir the oil in one way only to avoid little lumps in the butter.
In the meantime, women from Wolodo sell their shea butter at the Marka-Kungo weekly market every Tuesday. This market hosts buyers from Bamako, Segou, Fana, and from as far away as Koutiala. Farmers from nearby villages also attend the market. The women from Wolodo and elsewhere also sell amongst each other in the village and in neighbouring villages.
When the House of Shea is operating, the marketing of shea butter will be totally changed. Instead of the women of Wolodo selling unprocessed shea butter, there will be on-site processing and sale of processed products, which will add further value to the butter. The House of Shea will manufacture soap, butter for the skin, and butter for the hair. Those products will be sold in supermarkets in the city and also in Europe, America, and elsewhere in Africa.
As we enter the village, we can see pits of shea nuts that we must walk around in order to get to the public place. We are welcomed by Mrs. Mah Diarra and her women’s group under the big palaver tree, where we are invaded by small multi-coloured birds. The name of the women’s group isBenkadi, which means “agreement.”(To the women) Good evening!
That’s when Radio Fanaka’s host Mrs. Mariam Dao told us about improved shea butter. Even better, she came to the village with an extension worker to explain how to make it. Radio Fanaka gave us radio sets and mobile phone cards so we could participate in the show and give our points of view. But we haven’t produced any butter this year.
(To the radio listeners) I was received by the women’s village association’s president, Mrs. Nadjé Mariko. The yard was clean and surrounded by a wall on two sides. I could see and hear small animals and farm birds. I spoke with one of the women in the group.
(To Sitan Fomba)
On this note, we hope you’ll join us again for another show. Thanks kindly for being with us, and enjoy the rest of the programmes on our radio station! Bye!Fade signature tune up and out
- Contributed by: Mariam Koné, a journalist at the journal “L’Annonceur”
- Reviewed by: Modibo G. Coulibaly, Director of Regional Office, West Africa, Farm Radio International
- Intercoopération website: http://www.dicsahel.org/. Intercoopération is a Swiss NGO, and part of its mission is to protect the shea forest.
Malian Ministry of Environment website: http://www.environnement.gov.ml/
AFRRI Mali. Report of the Participatory Radio Campaign (unpublished)
- Interviews with:
Mrs. Awa Traoré: President of the women’s association in Wolodo,
Mrs. Mah Diarra: President of the Benkadi group in Ballan,
Mrs. Sitan Fomba: Deputy-President of the women’s group in Dien,
Mrs. Mariam Dao: Host at Radio Fanaka
All interviews conducted in April, 2011.
- Thanks to:
Farm Radio International West Africa Regional Office, Bamako, Mali.
Village chiefs of the three regions (Wolodo: Kissima Traoré, Ballan: Bafing Diarra, Dien: Amadou Fomba)
Radio Fanaka, Fana, Mali.