chapter  15
Gendered knowledge sharing and management of shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) in central-west Burkina Faso
ByMarlène Elias
Pages 20

Shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa C.F. Gaertn.) provide essential benets to local people and ecosystems in 18 countries across the semi-arid African savanna (Hall et al. 1966). Shea trees are prized for their nutritive fruit, medicinal properties and hardwood, but especially for the butter that women extract from their nuts (Burkill 2000). This shea butter represents the primary source of dietary fat for many agriculturalists living in the species’ range and serves important economic and cultural uses (Lykke et al. 2002). Internationally, shea butter is a prized ingredient in cosmetics and confectionaries, which oers signicant and growing economic prospects for countries such as Burkina Faso, where shea nuts rank fourth among national export commodities (MEF 2011). Due to its myriad purposes, farmers have selectively protected the species when clearing their elds for agriculture, resulting in agroforestry parklands where shea grows in nearly pure stands (Boa 1999).