Economic Analysis of Shea Butter Plant in Ukum Local Government, Benue State, Nigeria
The study investigated the economic importance of an under-utilized “tree of life” Shea butter in Benue State. Multi-stage sampling technique was used in collecting primary data from 120 farmers comprising 80 and 40 farmers that keep shea butter trees and those that do not respectively. The result of their socio-economic characteristics shows similarity in term of age, farmsize, educational background, farming experience and household size; but marked difference in their annual income. Subsequently, the t-test result revealed that the annual income of those who keep the tree on the farmlands is significantly higher (t= 3.33; P# 0.05) than those who do not. Again, the study found that the tree has not been domesticated. However, farmers allow the tree to grow on the farmlands mainly for fire-wood, source of income, medicinal purposes and edible catepillar. Furthermore, the processing of shea butter products was found to be profitable (t=4.654; P# 0.05) and the regression result shows that the presence of shea butter trees on a farmland increases the yield of guineacorn. As the tree possesses positive potentials of enhancing the living standards of farmers,
intensified research into various silvicultural possibilities of domesticating the tree, improved processing and marketing of its products are recommended.