Degas Partners with a Fuji Oil Group Company, Fuji Oil Ghana – Aggregating Sustainable Shea Kernels Through Degas’ Farmer Network and its Farmer Management System

July 19, 2023

Degas Ltd. (HQ : Tokyo, Japan, CEO : Doga Makiura, “Degas”), through its subsidiary, Degas Ghana Ltd. (Office : Accra, Ghana, CEO : Doga Makiura, “Degas Ghana”) has partnered with a world’s leading food ingredients processor Fuji Oil Holdings (HQ : Osaka, Japan, CEO : Mikio Sakai) through its subsidiary, Fuji Oil Ghana (Office : Techiman-Bono East, Ghana, Managing Director:Ronny Voorspools, “Fuji Oil Ghana”) to aggregate sustainable shea kernels (shea nuts) in the northern region of Ghana, and to achieve traceability.

About Degas

Degas provides in-kind finance to smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (‘farmer financing business’). Data on agri-inputs, farmland evaluation, farming guidance, harvests, etc. is collected and managed via in-house developed mobile apps and optical satellites. The company’s strength lies in its AI-based operations to form smallholder credit scores; hence achieving high recovery rates. Degas’ proprietary credit scoring algorithm enables farmers to access agricultural inputs regardless of their environmental and asset conditions, and to enjoy services that dramatically improves their income and Quality of Life (QoL).

In addition, over 120,000 bags of harvested maize bags (in 2022) are tagged with QR codes to ensure traceability on a bag-by-bag basis (e.g. when, where, how, who produced and shipped it, and with what quality).

About Fuji Oil Group and Fuji Oil Ghana

The Fuji Oil Group, with headquarters in Japan, is a manufacturer of plant-based food solutions in the fields of four key businesses: specialty oils & fats, industrial chocolate, emulsified & fermented ingredients and soy-based ingredients, which ranges from soy protein products to soy-based processed food products. Fuji Oil’s Ghana-based production facility (Fuji Oil Ghana, FOG) specializes in the fractionation of shea butter producing shea stearin, used as an ingredient for CBE fats and other functional fat applications within the Fuji Oil Group, and shea olein mainly sold on the local West-African market as an ingredient for food and cosmetic purposes. The Fuji Oil Group has adopted a Vision; “Together with our stakeholders, we will co-create a sustainable future for food, based on plant-based ingredients that are both delicious and healthy,” as their Management Philosophy. The aim is to solve social issues through plant-based food ingredients and promote sustainable management that achieves both sustainable corporate growth and society, especially sustainable procurement of key raw materials (palm oil, cocoa, and soybeans).

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In the Fuji Oil Group’s vegetable oils and fats business, the shea butter extracted from shea kernels is an important raw material widely used as a cocoa butter equivalent (CBE). Shea trees grow naturally in the shea belt located in sub-Saharan West Africa and bear fruit once a year between May and June. Traditionally, women are involved from the harvesting to the processing of shea kernels, many of whom are members of cooperatives. The harvested shea kernels are heat-treated by women’s cooperatives in rural areas and then processed into edible shea butter at oil mills.

In June 2021, the Fuji Oil Group formulated the Responsible Shea Kernels Sourcing Policy in order to facilitate sustainable development of this supply chain. After establishing the policy, The Group set medium- to long-term goals and KPIs. They are working toward a sustainable future by fulfilling the following three commitments set forth in the policy.

  • Conserve parkland: Plant 6,000 shea tree saplings every year in the region
  • Encourage rural development and environmental awareness: Empower the women involved in the shea kernel industry and improve production capacity of their cooperatives
  • Local value creation: Create employment, including training on operational skills, quality and safety, and create high value-added products in the communities

In March 2021, the Group launched the Shea Sustainability Program Tebma-Kandu with 23 women’s cooperatives in North Ghana, as part of their initiatives to fulfill their three commitments.


Shea kernel: An embryo in the seed (shea nut) taken from the fruit of the shea tree. Main production areas are located in Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Follow the link below to learn more about Fuji Oil Ghana and the Temba-Kandu program.
Fuji Oil Ghana | Fuji Oil Europe

Background and purpose of the partnership

In FY2021, Fuji Oil began the sustainable procurement of shea kernels with a particular focus on launching and running the Tebma-Kandu program. Feedback from the cooperatives was positive, and as a result of working in partnership with the women in farming families under proper local guidance, Fuji Oil was able to achieve their goals for the most part. On the other hand, the volume of shea nuts directly procured from Tebma Kandu cooperatives was not yet where it needed to be. To advance the program, frequent and effective communication is crucial. It needs to overcome the challenges posed by the language barrier and physical distance.

Amidst these challenges, in March 2023, Ronny, Managing Director of Fuji Oil Ghana, visited Degas’ operations in northern Ghana. He sought to work with Degas, which provides farmers with finance for agri-inputs and 100% traceability. As mentioned above, the hurdles to accurately profiling and communicating with women farmers in the Tebma-Kandu program co-operatives are high in this project, but by putting shea kernel aggregation on top of Degas’ existing operations, the two companies can leverage their mutual strengths to increase the proportion of shea kernel aggregated directly from the Tebma-Kandu co-operative.

About the partnership

MoU was signed on June 26, 2023. Aimed at increasing the incomes of women farmers in northern Ghana who procure shea kernels and increasing the proportion of shea kernels procured from the co-operative, with Degas procuring shea kernels on the operation with over 70 field officers and a network of over 24,000 farmers. At the same time, a Degas traceability system will be introduced in the project, where all bags (85 kg/bag) of shea kernels procured will be tagged with a unique QR code to visualise which cooperative the shea kernel came from, via which route, and to what quality. Aggregated shea kernels are stored in the Degas warehouse and undergo primary processing (e.g. drying).

During the entire process, Fuji Oil Ghana provides Degas with technical guidance on everything from aggregation to quality control (moisture content, oil content, etc.).

Fuji Oil Ghana pays the co-operative for the high quality shea kernels and Degas for the service fees. Target for 2023 is to aggregate 1,400 tonnes (16,000 bags) of shea kernels.

Comments from each party

Degas Ltd., CEO : Doga Makiura

“In early February this year, we were finally ready to customize the operational excellence we have developed through our farmer financing business and work with external parties.

Since then, we have been seeking partnerships with companies who have smallholder farmers in their supply chains, from food processors to manufacturers. We are looking forward to working with Fuji Oil Group as the first step in this process. We will make full use of a management of field staff known as field agents, who manage farmers, and our own apps and platforms that enable this management in this partnership. We will continue our dialogue with companies we can work with on raw material sourcing, technical guidance to smallholder farmers and traceability.”

Fuji Oil Ghana Managing Director : Mr. Ronny Voorspools

““Tebma Kandu” is Mampruli (a local language) and translates as “push me and I will climb”, a perfect match with the purpose of the program: pushing the women cooperatives (52 and counting) with coaching, training, warehouses, safety equipment, prefinancing and other tools to become mature organizations capable of empowering their female members.  The program aims to go deep for maximal impact, while scale is important to reach as many women as possible and cover a large share of shea kernels for Fuji Oil Ghana’s shea operations in Techiman.

Fuji Oil’s Tebma Kandu project therefore opens up for upstream and downstream partnerships. Combining the experience, relations and presence of NGO’s in the field with the network, market penetration and technical know-how of industrial business partners, gives the program a considerable boost.

After the first contacts and field visit, both partners quickly understood that their sustainable approach in the rural villages in Ghana is complementary.  Eventually, an MOU was signed to start a close partnership on sustainable shea procurement while further developing the shea sourcing communities that are already part of the Degas sustainable agri-business model.

Tebma Kandu is a journey, a long-term program that grows throughout the years.  I am delighted having Degas joining us on this exciting trip.  1+1 equals 3: the key to a successful partnership.”



About Degas Ltd.

Company name: Degas Ltd. / Degas Ghana Ltd.
Representative: Doga Makiura
Paid-in capital: JPY 256,106,799
No. of members: 130
Business: Financing of farmers, implementation of regenerative agriculture with a focus on smallholder farmer management by using technology

Media inquiries

JAHQCC / Degas Ltd.

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