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Strange Disease Ravages Shea Nut Trees in Kitgum

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Jacob Onen, a resident of Opete Village in Labongo Amida Sub-county, says that the strange disease started around 2014 but notes that he didn’t pay attention to it until this year when he realized it could be a disease.
One of the infected shea nut trees in Lalano Subcounty in Kitgum District.

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The Shea nut tree population in Kitgum District is under the threat of extinction following an outbreak of a strange disease. The disease reportedly broke out last year and has been ravaging shea nut trees in Opete village in Lukwo Parish, Labongo Amida Sub-county, Lakwor Parish in Lalano Sub-county and parts of Lagoro and Kitgum Matidi Sub-counties.



An infected Shea nut tree present with symptoms of dry brown leaves and barks before the tree eventually dry off completely, according to reports from residents.  George Anywar, a resident of Lakwor parish says that he first witnessed the strange disease early this year while collecting shea nut tree seeds for planting.

Anywar says the bark of the affected shea nut tree usually starts peeling off while the leaves turn brown and dry off. Anywar notes that infected trees only last for a period of three to four months before dying off completely.

Luo

//cue in “Kara ma an…

Cue out:…me Kitgum district.”//   Anywar says there is an urgent need for the government to respond to the disease outbreak before a vast population of shea nut trees in the region are infected and destroyed.

//cue in: “wa tiye ka…



Cue out:…pe ku mede.”//

Margaret Otim, another resident of Lakwor parish, says that more than ten shea nut trees on her farmland have dried within only one year after being attacked by the strange disease. Otim suspects the disease could be spread by some caterpillars that have been eating the leaves and barks of shea nut trees.

Luo

//cue in “km yaa ni…

Cue out:…dong otwo ba.”//  

Jacob Onen, a resident of Opete Village in Labongo Amida Sub-county, says that the strange disease started around 2014 but notes that he didn’t pay attention to it until this year when he realized it could be a disease. He says his farmland had over 40 shea nut trees but they have been drying off over the years, adding that he currently has only ten left.

Luo

//cue in: “yaa nongo akoyo…  

Cue out:…ni pii ni.”//

Martin Anywar, Kitgum District Forest Officer acknowledges receiving reports of the disease affecting shea nut trees. Anywar says a team from the district forestry and agricultural departments visited the sites where the shea nut trees are being ravaged, adding that they have already commenced investigations.

//cue in: “I have been…  

Cue out:…widespread problem.”//

  The bulk of the shea nut trees are found in the districts of Agago, Pader, and Kitgum in East Acholi. The trees take between 25 to 30 years to mature before they start bearing fruits. Shea nut trees are however among some of the traditional tree species in the region facing threats of extinction owing to the growing demand for charcoal.

The trees are of cultural significance to the people of Acholi while their fruits are nutritious and the seeds used to extract shea butter.

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