Soil physical and chemical properties and their relationship with sheabutter quality in selected areas of the Northern Region of Ghana

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Soil physical and chemical properties and their relationship with the quality of shea butter, an extract of the kernels of the shea tree, were investigated in four districts of the Northern region of Ghana. Thirty-six samples of freshly extracted shea butter together with 36 soil samples were collected and stored at 25°C for analysis. The soil properties and that of properties of shea butter were determined using standard methods. The qualities of the shea butter were also examined based on their moisture content (MC), the peroxide value (PV), the insoluble impurities (IM) and free fatty (FAA) acids using a grading system set by the Regional Technical Committee of Africa standard for unrefined shea butter. A coefficient of determination (R2) was used to establish the correlation between the soil properties and the quality and quantity of shea butter. The results indicated that soils at the shea parklands had sand forming the highest component (66.60 – 52.04), followed by silt (38.65 – 26.69) and lastly clay (9.31 – 4.73). The soil chemical properties such as organic carbon (OC), organic matter (OM) cation exchange capacity (CEC) and Nitrogen (N) were found to have poor correlation with the butter quality parameters. It was, however, found that the soil chemical properties of soil organic matter, soil organic carbon and cation exchange capacity correlates strongly with the fat content with R2 values ranging between 0.82 and 0.84. In conclusion, soil physical and chemical properties do not have a direct relationship with the quality of shea butter.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department Of Chemistry, College Of Science, Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science And Technology In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Of Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in Organic and Natural Product Chemistry