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.
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.
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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.
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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
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
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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.
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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
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
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.
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“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