With First Official Trip, Ambassador Palmer Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Development in Ghana’s North

U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Virginia Palmer meets Northern Regional Minister Shani Alhassan Saibu on July 20, 2022.

Tamale, Ghana – On her first official trip in Ghana, U.S. Ambassador Virginia Palmer visited Tamale and Northern Region this week.  She met with peace and security, economic empowerment, public health, media, and development partners during the two-day trip.  USAID Ghana Mission Director Kimberly Rosen accompanied the Ambassador.

“Northern Ghana is an absolute priority for the United States, which is why I’m here on my first trip.  From the young people, entrepreneurs, farmers, and civil society and traditional leaders I’ve met, it’s clear this region holds incredible potential.  I am already thinking about my next trip back,” said U.S. Ambassador Virginia Palmer.

The Ambassador met Northern Regional Minister and Chairman of the Regional Security Council Honorable Shani Alhassan Shaibu.  They discussed U.S. Government support for economic and human development in the region and community-based efforts to detect and prevent violent extremism.

U.S. Ambassador Virginia Palmer visits Nuts for Growth in Tamale, Northern Region, July 21, 2022

During a visit to the Nuts For Growth shea processing plant, Ambassador Palmer helped launch the Global Shea Alliance and MasterCard Foundation’s Shea Business Empowerment Program.  The program will work with local shea collectors to transform their informal operations into well-structured small businesses and cooperatives that can more readily achieve economies of scale to participate in the global market for shea.  Nuts For Growth is also a recipient of a $980,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to catalyze private investment and expand incomes of 20,000 women farmers in the region.

Later, meeting with representatives of the USAID Women in Agriculture Platform, Ambassador Palmer heard about their concerns and challenges with land tenure, water management, and, most recently, fertilizer scarcity.

U.S. Ambassador Virginia Palmer meets newly certified wiring professionals, Tamale, Northern Region, July 20, 2022

Ambassador Palmer was the keynote speaker at the USAID Wiring Artisans program graduation for 44 newly trained electrical wiring professionals.  The program focused on teaching professional electrician skills to local residents, including ten women.  These trained professionals will now enter the local job market with more marketable skills.  The Ambassador appreciated the contributions they would make to Ghana’s economic development and celebrated the near doubling of women in the field.

She also met with local alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship and other U.S. Government exchange programs. Before departing Tamale, Ambassador Palmer met with Hajia Dr. Kansanwurche Azara Bukari, President of the Savannah Region Queen Mothers Association to discuss the critical role of traditional leaders in Ghana.


Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Palmer
Nuts For Growth and Shea Business Empowerment Program Launch
Nuts For Growth Factory, Jerigu, Tamale
July 21, 2022, 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.

-As Delivered-

Good morning!

It’s my pleasure to be here with you today to help you launch this new partnership between Nuts For Growth, Mastercard Foundation, and the Global Shea Alliance. The Shea Business Empowerment Program will connect local suppliers with global markets, track the sustainable sourcing of shea and soya from Ghana’s North, and help local shea collectors transform their businesses into well-organized businesses that can actively and equitably participate in the global supply chain.

I’d really like to cheer again, the formidable woman, the driving force behind this partnership: Chief Executive Officer Dora Torwiseh.  Dora, you’re an example for us all and your leadership and what you’re doing for women and girls in Ghana and beyond is really remarkable.  As you say, demonstrating that women can lead in business is an important game changer and model for women across Africa and beyond.  Your work and commitment to improving the lives of women, who are the backbone of the shea industry in Ghana, and to promoting long-term trade partnership with an American company has made today possible.

And, Lily from USAID was just telling me that Nuts For Growth has become a bunge special provider, which is quite a remarkable achievement. Congratulations!

I’d also like to extend my thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture which has done remarkable and important things to continue to support the shea industry in Ghana.

Congratulations, especially to the Mastercard Foundation and the Global Shea Alliance for their engagement with Nuts For Growth in promoting sustainable livelihoods for women, job creation, and preserving shea trees.  I was saying to Rosie that I’ve already – I’ve only been in Ghana really six weeks – and I’ve seen remarkable things that the Mastercard Foundation is doing here already and it’s great to see this one today.

Through USAID’s West Africa Trade & Investment Hub – and Charles is here representing the Trade Hub – the United States is supporting Nuts For Growth and with its upcoming factory launch that will create 300 jobs in Tamale and help an additional 20,000 women through improvements in shea and soya production.

By leveraging each other’s investments, the Mastercard Foundation and the U.S. government amplify our impact on poverty reduction, youth employment, food security, and forest conservation in northern Ghana.  The Mastercard Foundation is bringing a digital tool that improves the traceability of shea and soya; and the U.S. government increases the volume of shea and soya production; and together, we’re creating a more resilient, women-based supply chain, a stronger and more inclusive company, and more robust, sustainable trade between our two countries.

And this type of trade creates opportunities for people here in Ghana’s North to improve their own lives and participate in the global economy and Ghana’s development. And that kind of inclusive economic growth is something that I know that Ghana, the government of Ghana, and the government of the United States regard as really important to regional economic development and regional security. It’s good for Ghana, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for the economy.

I’m delighted to be a part of this ceremony – a combination of our investment in the Trade Hub, partnership in the Global Shea Alliance, and coordination with the Mastercard Foundation.  This is exactly the kind of public-private partnership that is key to Ghana’s human and economic development.

Through Nuts For Growth, we’re working together for greater impact, supporting the livelihoods of over 77,000 women shea and soya farmers, bolstering the economy in northern Ghana, and preserving shea trees that will create a Green Wall against desertification in Ghana.

So on behalf of the U.S. Mission in Ghana, congratulations to everyone here today on these impressive accomplishments and those that are yet to come. And I’ll come back and visit that tree and be thrilled to see all the people employed in the factory and beyond.

Thank you very much!