RESEARCH REPORT: SHEA BUTTER IN OKERE - A GIFT FROM NATURE
SUMMARY OF THE REPORT: SHEA BUTTER IN OKERE
The importance of Shea to the socio-economic realities of the people in Okere cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately, the role of Shea as a tool for economic emancipation and social transformation in Okere has been dwindling over the past years.
This predicament is occasioned by a number of factors but the conflict that Northern Uganda got embroiled in for over two decades was one of the major contributory factors. Nonetheless, selling Shea nuts continues to be one of the livelihood alternatives for hundreds of households in Okere and other surrounding parishes. Generally, efforts to conserve, protect and sustainably manage Shea trees in Okere have been non-existent. The same is partly true for efforts to promote the value chain development of Shea butter in the village.
Women still engage in Shea butter production like it was done centuries ago. Many challenges being faced today in relation to conservation and value addition are still akin to those faced decades ago. It is this neglect of both the conservation of Shea trees and value chain development of Shea butter that prompted the establishment of Okere Shea Cooperative Society in 2020. The Cooperative, one of the initiatives of the Okere City Project seeks to position Shea as one of the central foci of economic development in the village.
The mandate of Okere Shea Cooperative Society is particularly important because of the rising global significance and demand of Shea butter. The current global Shea butter market is USD 1.12 billion and it is expected to cross the USD 2.9 billion mark by 2025 according to data from the Global Market Insights . The main driver is the increasing demand for natural and organic cosmetics on the global market. In the year 2019, Uganda earned USD 706,000 from exports of Shea butter and there is a potential of this export tripling by 2025.