OTUKE– The price of shea nuts in northern Uganda, especially in Otuke district and other shea parkland areas has gone up due to the high demand being experienced.
A kilogramme of shea nuts according to local processors has shot up to Shs 5,000 from Shs 2, 000 as competition for the nuts continues.
Shea tree is wildly grown in West Nile, northern and eastern parts of the country and according to experts, it can take between 10 to 15 years before it starts bearing nuts.
According to Sheabutter.com, the shea trees can bear nuts for a period of up to 200 years, ensuring a long-lasting means of production.
Each shea tree can produce as much as 45 kilogrammes of fruit every year, and each nut can contain as many as 400 grammes of dry shea nut seeds that are used to produce shea butter.
The fruit consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed from which shea butter is extracted.
Shea nut is highly valued by the local communities, not only for the economic and dietary value of the cooking oil but also for other products.
The nuts boost skin moisture and heal cuts, and they are antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal among other benefits.
It’s also used in cosmetic industries for manufacturing body lotions, jelly, soaps, body creams and shea butter.
Florence Otongo, the chairperson of Can Omia Diro women Group in Ogor Sub-county, Otuke district said there are five groups engaged in the shea nut value chain but that skyrocketing prices and limited finances could make some of the players leave the business.
The nuts are picked from the shea parkland areas such Agago, Abim, Kabbong, Kotido, Pader, Kitgum, Lamwo and Alebtong districts.
Otongo said between March and June 2022, when the season had just started, they were buying cheaply shea nuts at Shs Shs 2,000, giving them reasonable profits. The group processes, body lotion, jelly, body cream and soap.
Other groups include Bedigen Women Group, Mooyao Women Group, Rwot Konya United and Gin Aloo Obanga Pe Women Group.
“Right now there are so many traders and processors coming for shea nuts, making the price jump from Shs 2,000 to Shs 5,000 per kilogramme,” she added.
According to Sirjit Singh, the chief executive officer of Guru Nanak Oil mills, due to the scarcity of the shea nuts and the cost involved in processing, they have switched to soybean processing.
He said their machine has the capacity to crash about two tonnes daily and they are incapacitated to raise the tonnage.
He said has suspended and resorted to buying soybeans because of the scarcity and high price of the nuts and that he is hoping to resume next year.
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