This week we are touring shea cooperatives supported by GIZ in northern Uganda and other partners. We started our tour with a visit to Ngetta ZARDI under NARO (us Ugandans love our acronyms). NARO is one of my favourite government institutions to visit! So much work is being done by our (look at me, well I pay my taxes ) scientists at the different NARO institutions around the country. Henewe, we went to visit shea nut tree nursery and the shea agroforestry farming model garden. These shea seedlings in the pots made me very happy. The scientist in charge was a passionate lady who proudly showed off her children (trees) she has been planting during her work at NARO. She shared her tree planting philosophy that was passed on to her by her father: Every time she has a child, she plants at least three acres of trees in honour of that child. Her father had nine children and he planted many trees over the years which have now become his source of income in retirement.
For any reason plant trees. And for quality planting materials, contact a NARO institute near you! I bought some clonal eucalyptus seedlings which we delivered to our Factory in Otuke. We learnt that clonal eucalyptus is fast growing and makes excellent charcoal, much better than shea wood and it's a fast growing tree.
As part of conservation efforts and education for the shea tree, we need to provide viable alternatives to farmers and the country for livelihood and energy requirements. 90% of Uganda uses charcoal and firewood to cook. We strongly believe that we can make charcoal farming a real business and take the pressure off the shea trees and the natural forests. We are going to pilot this on site in Otuke, and start to partner with our shea collector communities to scale this up.
We have identified a number of fast growing trees that make excellent charcoal and firewood. We shall be establishing nurseries in the communities to ease distribution of seedlings.