The Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) is confident the recently formed cooperative for women and men dealing in shea butter production will go a long way in boosting the total volumes and improving the livelihood of the members.
Speaking during an interview with Urban TV, Claudia Tusingwire, a project manager at UWEAL, noted that for long these men and women have been operating in isolation and bringing them together will increase market access and a strong bargaining voice on the international market.
“Most of these people run informal businesses and this makes it difficult for them to get huge opportunities to supply the quality butter we produce here. Through this project which we have, titled ‘Generating increased pricing and new markets for the women engaged in the shea butter value chains, we are looking at increasing the number of players involved in the production from 7,400 to over one million,” Claudia told the Business Show which airs every Thursday on Urban TV.
Shea Butter has become one of the most marketable products among Ugandan and South Sudan women, earning them millions, impacting livelihoods and boosting local economies.
However, the production of shea butter is under threat from rampant charcoal burning in the Northern part of the country. This has been attributed to the huge demand for charcoal by locals in Kampala.
Shea butter trees make the best charcoal and this is why the men have embraced cutting them down to earn quick money. Our fear as UWEAL is that if this charcoal business is not regulated then we shall lose all the trees.
These trees take between 15-20 years to mature and if cut down then we shall have to wait for a long time to reap again.
One of the key findings of the baseline survey by Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited is that women dominate the Shea trade by 70%.