The ‘Mushroom Lady’ is Growing Change in Tanzania
This article was originally published by Land O’Lakes and written by Ashley Peterson here.
Recognizing the women who feed the world for International Women’s Day
Innovations in Gender Equality
Whether it’s a farmer in Wisconsin or an entrepreneur in Tanzania, at Land O’Lakes, Inc., we believe that feeding human progress starts with helping those who bear the great responsibility of growing food to fuel their communities. Land O’Lakes International Development, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit closely rooted in our Land O’Lakes, Inc. history, is working to address the constraints Tanzanian women face in the field and in the home through the USAID-funded Innovations in Gender Equality (IGE) program.
“When you empower a woman, you empower a whole family,” says Judith Simon Muro, a Tanzanian farmer and entrepreneur. To her, elevating a woman’s worth not only makes for a more prosperous family, but also a more prosperous, well-nourished, happier nation. Living in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam, Judith is demonstrating the important leadership role that women can play in agriculture—through mushrooms.
On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate women like Judith who are creating a better, more equitable world for women in agriculture. Through this USAID-funded video, we are delighted to share Judith’s story:
Mushrooms. Toadstools. Fungus. Love ’em or hate ’em, mushrooms are a nutritious and common food in Tanzania. And, as it turns out, they are easy to grow too. Especially when using Judith’s innovation: a mushroom house. These locally-made structures take up a small space, use recycled materials, require minimal maintenance, and for those without land, like women and young adults, they provide a way to grow a healthy and profitable crop year-round.
In 2015, IGE provided Judith with business training and a grant to acquire tools, mushroom seeds and connections to grow her business. From 2015-2016, Judith’s annual business revenue grew from $1,200 to $25,000.
The five-year IGE program is promoting gender equality in agriculture by supporting entrepreneurs like Judith to test and promote innovations that reduce women’s time and labor burdens. At the same time, the program is training communities on the benefits of equally treating women, men, girls and boys inside and outside of the home.
International Women’s Day
We are proud to partner with businesses like Judith’s. At the same time, we know there is much more progress to be made in breaking down the barriers that women in agriculture face. Land O’Lakes International Development is committed to making gender a critical focus across all of our projects. Together with other like-minded organizations, we collaborated to define Minimum Standards for Mainstreaming Gender Equality. This list was officially launched today.
Join us this International Women’s Day in committing to support women like Judith by sharing this video as we all strive to #BeBoldForChange.