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The shea nut tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) is a widely distributed and traditional source of vegetable fat in the Sahel for the Bambara, Dyula, Fulani, Hausa, and Wolof peoples. Some of its common names suggest its dietary importance: bambouk butter tree, galam butter tree, and arbre à beurre. Other common names in many different languages include karité, cárei, carité, lulu, sirreh, se, berekunan, tamba, taanga, and kareje. Fruity pulp and butter from shea nut trees are important food sources during the ‘hunger months’ of the early rainy season, before annual crops are harvested. However, even though the shea nut tree is widespread and traditionally used, it is underutilized because of the high amounts of labor, fuel, and water that are required to process it. The grueling and resource-intensive butter-making process can be streamlined by modern, low-tech methods that could expand its use as a hedge against food insecurity.

---  EDN #141



  1. 2018-10-17 The arid region directly south of the Sahara Desert (the Sahel), which stretches from Senegal to Ethiopia, has limited sources of fats and oils. Dairy products from cows and sheep are scarce and traditional oilseed crops are few. This is problematic for human health since fats and oils contain...
  2. AccessAgriculture Training Video Shea butter is used a lot in cooking, traditional medicine and cosmetic products. However traditional extraction of shea butter doesn’t follow required hygiene rules, this results in unsafe butter that can cause illness in consumers. In this video, we will learn...
  3. AccessAgriculture Training Video In this video, we will learn how to collect shea fruits, remove nuts from shea fruits, sort, dry and shell the nuts to get good quality kernels. We shall also learn how to sort, dry and grade shea kernels for the market. Available languages Bambara Chichewa /...
  4. 2015-03-26
  5. Shea butter is an ivory colored or yellowish fat that is extracted from nuts of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), which is found in West Africa. Shea butter is used in cosmetics including moisturizer as well as foods such as chocolate. Additionally, it has been used in medicinal ointments....
  6. Shea is an important product for women in the shea belt, which ranges from Senegal in West Africa to Ethiopia in East Africa. However, if the raw shea nuts are not properly processed then the resultant stored nuts and derived products are of poorer quality. The following animation demonstrates...

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