The nuts ‘n’ oils Organic Shea Butter originates from the nuts of the African shea trees in Lira district, located in the northern region of Uganda.
Since the late eighties, Northern Uganda was the scene for the violent insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group led by Joseph Kony. For over 20 years, the LRA terrorized Northern Ugandans, burned villages, maimed and killed residents and abducted children to force them into fighting his war. Others were forced into sex slavery to produce “a pure Acholi race,” all to serve the rebel leader’s ambition of running the country. To secure their safety, the country’s president hurdled nearly two million people into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. The conditions in the camps were harsh and disease was widespread. When, in 2006, the security situation gradually improved, many IDPs left the camps to return to their villages and ancestral lands. They faced the difficult task of rebuilding their lives and homes. Many had lost one or several family members and their homes and lands were burnt. During and after the war, many mature shea trees had been cut down for firewood and the centuries old practice of shea farming almost disappeared…
Today: With Ecocert training given by the very passionate and tenacious Mr. Surjit Singh, the founder of our shea butter project in Lira, more than 2,000 independent farmers have come to re-learn the value of shea trading. What’s more, following years of lobbying, the felling of shea trees for firewood has finally become illegal, ensuring the sustainability of the environment and the restoration of a centuries-old practice of cultivating shea.
When we trade in Northern Uganda shea, we conserve the environment and local traditions, in addition to providing an honest livelihood. Food aid is no longer necessary for farmers we trade with in a post-IDP era.
My name is Beatrice Omara. I come from Alinga dyel village. I am 76 years old and I have 9 children. I learned the shea farming practice from my parents, who also learned it from their parents. When they attacked our village, they burnt all the houses, killed people and took our animals. With my 9 children and some belongings we fled in the bush and walked for 3 days and nights until we reached Lira town in search for security. We stayed in the IDP camp for 5 years. My husband died there because of illness. In 2007, I returned to our community with my 9 children, but found that the whole village was destroyed. After some time, we took up shea farming to provide in our livelihoods.
My name is Anjulata Olima. I am 54 years old. I have 6 children. During the war, soldiers came to our house. I heard that many children were abducted and never came back so I had to flee with my children and all my belongings. We stayed in IDP camps in the village and in Lira town. My husband died because of malaria. After the war, we returned to this area as it is where I am born and my ancestors were born. We have been shea farmers for generations, but during the war many trees were cut to use as firewood for cooking. We use shea for cooking, smearing on our bodies and we eat the fruits. During harvest time, I sell most of the nuts of my shea trees as it gives me a good income to survive and pay school fees.