Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB) has set a target of supporting and enabling Shea Nut producers to have at least 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes of Shea Nut produced by 2022.
The government agency said this will be done by conserving and stopping the depletion of the Shea Nut trees, which are largely cut down for charcoal burning.
In Uganda, Shea Nut trees only grow in Northern Uganda, in the districts of Kotido, Kaboong, Moroto, Abim, Otuke, Agago, Kitgum and in the West Nile.
“We have to encourage Shea Nut tree protection. This must be done through sensitization of people involved in the Shea tree products, involving NEMA, UPDF, Uganda Wildlife Authority and other government agencies to ensure conservation of the Shea Nut trees,” said Dr Elly Twineyo Kamugisha the Uganda Export Promotions Board Executive Director during the National Shea Exhibition 2019 that was held at the Constitutional Square.
He says the Shea Nut tree is important to humans and animals for both environmental protection and for economic benefits as the oil extracted from its nuts has several nutritional and health benefits.
Sam Karuhanga, a Senior Export Marketing Executive at UEPB, said that in order to increase Shea products exports, they have set up a Shea export portal on their website and is updated weekly.
“We are as well building the capacity of the producers, processors and exporters, working with them on branding Ugandan Shea products to differentiate them from other kinds of butter. This is done by working with our Missions in target markets to promote Shea butter in overseas markets,” said Karuhanga.
The National Shea Exhibition, which started on 23 January and is expected to end on January 27, aims at increasing the use of Uganda Shea butter value-added products by creating more awareness.
Karuhanga though decried the infestation of middlemen in the trade, saying they are distorting the market by charging processors and exporters highly for the nuts while paying very little money to the producers hence, leaving the producers with little or no interest in preserving the crop but cut it for charcoal burning.
Twineyo indicated that his organization is partnering with NEMA, supported by UNDP to treat the Shea Nut trees located in Kidepo Critical Landscape as a crop and protecting the tree for production of Shea Butter and other added products not for charcoal.
Ten Shea Products makers participated in the exhibition. They included Moo Yao, Blessed Organic, Livara, Agago District Sheanut Collectors and Processors, Gulu Nanak, Shea House, Shea Care, Pelere Group, Shea Beauty Uganda and Crop Vet.
Uganda exports Shea products to Germany, Japan, Kenya, India, Canada, Middle East, Rwanda, France and Kenya.
BY PAUL TENTENA