Nilotica Shea Butter
And the Shea Project
The producers of Nilotica
shea butter are women farmers belonging to farming groups and cooperatives
of northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, brought together through the Shea
Project for Local Conservation and Development (the Shea Project), a highly
innovative new industry which reduces female labor, lifts women's incomes,
and directly benefits household food security.
As in most of Central
Africa, the women of northern Uganda and Southern Sudan are responsible
for all aspects of the household, from digging the fields to raising children
and feeding the family. Here, shea butter is a traditional food oil of
great importance, particularly during the 'hungry season' and times of
famine; surplus shea butter is sold at local markets.
Shea-nut has always
been gathered and processed by women, who use income from shea products
to pay school fees and taxes, and to buy essentials such as salt, soap,
clothing and medicines. Despite the nutritional and economic importance
of shea butter, traditional methods of extraction require very hard work,
and take a lot of women's time; they also require large amounts of fuelwood,
which can exacerbate problems of deforestation.
wood of the shea tree is also prized by the men who burn charcoal, and
in some places the tree is cut for this short-term (and very destructive)
gain. Since the shea-butter tree grows very slowly- taking as long as
20 years before fruiting - the species is very slow to regenerate, and
in some areas short-term planning may result in permanent destruction
of the savanna woodland ecosystem over large areas.
In peripheral and
extremely low-income areas like northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, only
economic incentives at the local level will preserve threatened savanna
woodland for future generations.
to Nilotica Botanicals
A long-term effort
of COVOL, a US-based non-profit grassroots development organization, the
Shea Project involves the introduction of simple, village-level technologies
for shea butter extraction which reduce female labor and lessen environmental
impacts of processing on local woodland. Participating women farmers also
benefit from a revolving loan program.
By addressing the
processing and marketing needs of traditional producers, the Shea Project
maximizes women's opportunities for income generation, directly reinforcing
household food security and promoting the conservation of indigenous woodland
resources for future generations.
All proceeds from
the sale of Nilotica shea products sustain the Shea Project, directly
reinforcing a local economy based on conservation of threatened savanna
to Nilotica Botanicals