The Shea Project 2008-2012.pdf

NUSPA in Lexus Magazine.pdf


The Shea Project

 

The Shea Project for Local Conservation and Development (The Shea Project), conceived in 1990, is an integrated conservation and development project which now covers an area of over 10,000 square miles (160,000 square kilometers) across northern Uganda, where over 400 community-based groups have been introduced to the project, their total membership representing over 10,000 farming households.

Since 1995, COVOL has developed working partnerships with NGOs working in southern Sudan and Tanzania.

The Shea Project is based on the value of the nilotic shea-butter tree, Vitellaria paradoxa ssp. nilotica, a slow-growing hardwood fruit tree indigenous to northern Uganda and Southern Sudan.

Inside the nutritious fruit is a large hard seed which yields shea-butter, a food-oil, cosmetic and sacred substance of great importance to the people who live with the tree, particularly the women farmers who process the nut and use income from the tree to sustain their families, and to improve their lives.

Women's income from shea products pays for children's school fees, clothing, salt, soap and taxes - all the cash needs of a household - while the oil itself nourishes the family. In times of drought and famine, the shea tree typically yields heavily, providing an important nutritional buffer.

 

The shea-butter from the nilotic shea-butter tree is different from that of the West African varieties in that it is higher in olein, which contains most of the therapeutic substances found in shea-butter. Nilotica shea-butter is softer and more fragrant than West African shea-butters, and this high-value product gives Ugandan women farmers over five times the amount received by their West African counterparts

In West Africa, sheanut and shea-butter prices are set by large multinational corporations which 'took over' the shea market following the colonial era. In Uganda, the price of shea products is set by the farmers themselves, based on the actual value of shea products to the farmers who produce it and by Ugandan consumers - prices on the traditional market are about double those of West Africa for both sheanut and shea-butter.

By reinforcing the economic value of the shea-butter tree through expanded markets, the Shea Project has received an enthusiastic response from participating farmers, who have become serious about protection of shea woodland - and serious as well about production of the finest quality shea-butter at a premium price.