Uganda’s effort to grow shea nut as an export commodity have been boosted by four new standards that will be used at the local, regional and international market.
The cosmetics standards that have been developed by Uganda National Bureau of Standards and Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB)include pure shea nut butter cosmetics (DUS 1931:2017), lip balm (DUS 1932: 2017); lip shine (DUS 1933: 2017) and after shave (DUS 1934:2017) plus the already developed shea nut butter food products standards.
Shea nuts are obtained from the shea tree that is indigenous to many parts of Africa. The shea nut is the seed of the fruit of the shea tree. In Uganda Shea trees are found in the northern part of the country in places such as Kidepo area, West Nile and Acholi districts.
Mr Elly Twineyo, UEPB’s executive director, in an interview with Prosper Magazine, said: “The Shea nut tree is important to humans and animals for both environmental protection and economic benefits. Its oil extracts from its nuts have several nutritional and health benefits.”
He said Shea tree is a key source of income especially for women who collect the shea nuts during its harvesting season from April to September.
Based on the data obtained from the exporting companies, it is estimated that Uganda currently exports 3 metric tonnes of shea nut butter and its products amounting to $21,000 (Shs77 million) per week.
Mr Twineyo said they are not only improving the quality of the commodity to reach the markets but also connecting processors and exporters to the foreign buyers in overseas markets.
“We have already connected Kahangi Estates, The Shea House, Gulu Nanak, and Shea Beauty Company to buyers from India, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, UAE, and Canada,” Mr Twineyo shared.
The exports promotion body working with the ministry of Agriculture, Trade, private sector and local governments, supported the development of a shea nut strategy and it is expected to be launched this month (August).
Mr Singh Surjit, the managing director at Gulu Nanak, one of the companies already into value addition and export of shea nut products such as butter and oil, said his company is already working with NEMA to conserve the shea nut tree in northern Uganda.
The company employs more than 40 Ugandans and works with a network of more than 2,000 farmers who supply shea nut which they process into butter and oil. This is then used as an ingredient in the production of cosmetics and other body care oils.
Gulu Nanak exports value added shea nut to 25 countries including Germany, Italy and Czech Republic. Other markets: India, Japan, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Kenya.