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Otuke Residents Plant Shea Nuts to Prevent Extinction :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Otuke Residents Plant Shea Nuts to Prevent Extinction

Ojok Okello, the head of the group operating under the project name, Okere City, says the group piloted planting of 1,000 trees of shea nuts last year, to see if it could grow. He says they hope to continue planting more trees this year, by adding more 5000 Shea trees.
11 Feb 2021 13:54
A shea nut tree. Photo by Caroline Ayugi

Audio 6

More than 80 residents in Okere Mom-Kok parish, Adwari Sub County, Otuke district have embarked on planting organic shea nut trees, to prevent its extinction caused by rapid cutting for timber and charcoal.  

Ojok Okello, the head of the group operating under the project name, Okere City, says the group piloted planting of 1,000 trees of shea nuts last year, to see if it could grow. He says they hope to continue planting more trees this year, by adding more 5,000 Shea trees.   

 //Cue in: “We planted 1,000…” 

 Cue out: …hopefully plant 5,000.”//   

 Ojok says although there are improved varieties of shea nut trees being sold by nursery bed owners, their group has ventured on planting the organic species on a trial-and-error basis. 

He explains that they started by burying the shea nut seeds for three weeks. When they guessed that the seeds had sprouted, they transferred them in a nursery bed, where they were nurtured for a month before transplantation.   

 //Cue in: “We got the…” 

 Cue out: …the modified ones.”//   

 Ojok says he conceived the idea to plant the trees because of the speed at which the shea trees have been destroyed in the area.   

 According to Ojok, more than 80 percent of mature shea nut trees in Kidepo critical landscape which covers; Kaabong, Kotido, Abim, Otuke, Agago, Kitgum, has been destroyed in 15 years, something he claims has affected the already hot weather in these districts and reduced the amount of rainfall they receive. 

 He attributes the drastic destruction of shea nut trees to the end of the Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA. First, because people were confined in camps for internally displaced persons, and secondly, because the LRA had an unwritten rule against the destruction of shea nut trees, which they held in holy regard. 

 //Cue in: “The area has…” 

 Cue out: …in the subregion.”//   

 Apart from planting shea nut trees to facilitate its continuity, Okere city Project members also run a sensitization campaign to protect the few mature shea nut trees that still exist, by telling them the uses.  

Shea nuts are not only are a source of shea butter but are used in the making of chocolate, body lotion and hair food.   

 //Cue in: “We sensitize the community…” 

 Cue out: …what they have.”//   

 Lucy Ojok a member of the Okere City Project, said they are thinking of planning to plant more than 10 acres of shea nut trees.   She reveals that after last year’s attempt, they have now known the best way to plant has the best results.  

She, however, says there is a challenge of getting the fresh seeds, which are the only viable ones for planting, the dry ones with do not germinate.   

 She says the few shea trees in Otuke are now being guarded by the landowners, who spend nights in the forest armed with arrows and spears to scare people from collecting the shea fruits. Members of kere City project are now forced to buy shea fruits from Pader or other districts.  

 //Cue in: “So we are…” 

 Cue out: …because yen nok.”//  

Translation:
 

 “So we are planning to plant more than 10 acres of shea nut trees. But for this year we want to plant 10 acres. The first challenge we are getting in planting shea nut trees is that you have to plant the seeds two days after eating the fruits.  You can’t save the seeds or buy from the shop like any other fruit seed. Secondly, we travel to other districts to buy fruits. Although there are few mature shea nut trees here, the landowners don’t want to sell the fruits. When it is the season for collecting shea fruits, the farmers sleep with spears, bows and arrows to guard the fruits, because the trees are few. They sell the shea butter, so it is their source of income.” 

 She says they are trying to liaise with the district forestry department and the National Forestry Authority to support them in sensitizing the community on the need to preserve the existing shea nut trees and plant more.   

 A study conducted in Makerere University showed that in 2008, fallow land in northern Uganda had 20 shea nut trees for each of 2.4 acres, but by 2017, the number had reduced to between 10-15 shea nut trees.   

 A shea nut tree takes between 10-15 years for the first harvest to be realized. In Uganda, shea nuts are a reserve tree species found in only northern Uganda and West Nile sub-region.   

 In 2018, government through the Ministry of Water and Environment, in line with Section 29 (1 & 3) of the National Forestry and Tree Panting Act 2003, suspended the cutting, transportation and sale of products ofShea nut trees, following its rapid destruction. 


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