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Teacher Conquers Trek to Arua to Save Shea Nut Tree

The Conservationist, Mustafa Gerima, started his journey in Kampala two weeks ago and endured extreme weather through the jungles and national parks along the route. He made nightlong stopovers at Bombo, Katuggo, Migyera, Kafu, Kigumba, Bweyale, Karuma, Pakwach and Nebbi, before arriving at his destination, Arua.
Mustafa Gerima Shea Nut Conservation campaigner taking to the road after addressing his fans at Kuluva on Wednesday.

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A conservationist who recently started a campaign to save Shea nut trees in West Nile and Northern Uganda has arrived in Arua, after trekking a distance of close to 500 kilometres. 

The Conservationist, Mustafa Gerima, started his journey in Kampala two weeks ago and endured extreme weather through the jungles and national parks along the route. He made nightlong stopovers at Bombo, Katuggo, Migyera, Kafu, Kigumba, Bweyale, Karuma, Pakwach and Nebbi, before arriving at his destination, Arua. 

The walk was intended to raise awareness on the importance of the tree species which faces extinction despite its economic importance to communities in West Nile, Northern and parts of Eastern Uganda, where the tree is used for food, medicine and as a source of income, especially, for women. 

The tree which is a source of cooking oil, butter that is used as a base for cosmetic and medicinal ointments, grows well in the districts of Abim, Adjumani, Amolatar, Amuru, Apac, Arua, Dokolo, Gulu, Kaabong, Kaberamaido, Kitgum, Koboko, Lira, Maracha-Terego, Moyo, Nebbi, Oyam, Pader, and Yumbe, among others. 

Scientists say that the Ugandan Shea butter is very similar to olive oil due to its high oleic acid content which makes it suitable for cosmetic products such as creams and lotions. Traditionally, Shea Butter is used can be kept for a year without getting spoilt. 

But the Shea nut production has drastically fallen as a result of human activity that has affected the Shea tree populations. The trees have been destroyed in several parts of the country allegedly for charcoal production. This threat of extinction is what motivated Mustafa Gerima, a former teacher to raise awareness about the Shea Nut Tree. 

At Kuluva trading centre, 10 kilometres from Arua town, along Arua-Nebbi road is where URN caught up with him to share his experience of the long trek to conserve and save the Shea nut trees in the region.   

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According to Gerima, after succeeding in his walk from Kampala to Arua, he will embark on raising tree seedlings of the Shea Nut and mobilize communities, local governments and NGOs to support him in establishing a Shea Nut tree plantation in Madi Okollo district where some of the trees are found. 

Fadhil Lemeriga, the spokesperson for Aringa Cultural Association observes an urgent need to curb down the increasing level of environmental destruction in West Nile, which he says has been aided by armed personnel.  

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The walk has also motivated some politicians to raise a red flag on general environmental conservation in West Nile. Elia Alitia, the Democratic Party Vice President for Northern Uganda says the initiative by Gerima to advocate for the conservation of the Shea nut trees in the region is highly supported.     

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