The felling of Sea Nut Trees for charcoal burning in West Nile and as well as other regions of northern Uganda, is threatening the extraction of sea nut oil which is on high demand in the country and foreign markets, according to dealers in this business.
The tree that produces both the edible product and smearing oil (butter) is among the best trees that produce charcoal which provides heat energy for preparation food in homes.
The recent engagement between the sea nut dealers and the German Corporation established that there are many challenges facing sea nut oil production and the major issue is the rampant cutting down of this trees, poor processing, branding and networking, limited scale on consumer packaging among others.
The local producers of sea nut products have now called upon local governments enact bylaws to protect sea nut tree.
Mary Orodriyo a trader in sea butter business from West Nile region said there is also no price target in the primary processing of the sea nut due to manipulation.
Charles Lagora Pader District commercial officer said the problem is the long value chain which worsened by use of fake weighing scale which is leading to adulteration of the product.
Robert Abak the resident district Commissioner Otuke appealed to the processors to use the resources that they have to support their product citing use of local media to create awareness and advertise their products.
Joyce Anguduyo another dealer said cutting of sea nut tree was making it hard for them to reap quality from the product. She urged people to be aware on the dangers of cutting down this tree species and that government should impose policy to combat the vice.
Alex Tabule the certification officer Uganda National Bureau of Standards said the farmers need to know about implementation of standards, technology, harvesting process and suitable packaging equipment should also be good enough to protect the sensitive product, quality improvement through standards and identification of gaps among others should be embraced.
Debrah Akatabi a researcher said that conservation of the tree species should be embraced by involving churches, schools and other institutions whereby they can plant more of the species in order to keep them present. They take 15 years to mature.
In 2006 President Museveni issued a warning through District Resident Commissioners to ensure that the districts of Karamoja, Lango, Acholi and West Nile protect the tree species due to their value that could boost Uganda’s exports.