Earning more from wild mushrooms
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CTA. 2005. Earning more from wild mushrooms. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57138
Meg Faville, a Peace Corps volunteer, describes how a group of women have learned to improve their mushroom handling and marketing, and become more self-reliant.
Earning more from wild mushrooms Cue: Adding value to basic farm produce is an important way or increasing income for people living in rural areas. In central Malawi, for example, some groups of women have recently begun adding value to the wild, edible mushrooms that they collect in a nearby forest reserve. They have been helped by Meg Faville, a Peace Corps volunteer living in the area, who has encouraged the women to improve their handling and marketing of the mushrooms, building on their traditional knowledge. Patrick Mphaka recently traveled to Zithani village in Kasungu district to meet Meg, and to find out more about the progress the women have made. IN: ?I was trying to stress to the women ? OUT: ? about their newly acquired knowledge.? DUR?N 4?16? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Patrick Mphaka was reporting from central Malawi. Transcript Faville I was trying to stress to the women that it?s very important how you package and how you process your mushrooms to sell them in a way that is both sanitary and also in a way that is eye-catching. So what we did is I gave every woman some soap to wash her hands before then we did a short talk about how to keep things clean while you are handling mushrooms that will be sold to the public. And we also talked a bit about marketing and having a nice label that says ?From the Forest? (that we collected it from). That it was harvested by women and that they had formed this group to generate some income for their families. So, what we are doing is basically trying to empower the women to start their business and make it something that can be sustained in the future. Mphaka Sustainability. The word we talk a lot about in development circles, but have so little, if any to show off about. A very difficult concept to achieve. Meg agrees, but is set to achieve it nevertheless. Faville It?s a very difficult thing sustainability, and we use the word very often. But for myself, there are small ways that you can ensure sustainability that I am trying to do with the women here. First of all, it takes motivation and it takes knowledge. If these women had no idea how to find mushrooms or what mushrooms to find, then we would not have a business in the first place. So that traditional knowledge is there. So that is something they can pass on to their children, and their children can therefore sustain the business as far as maintaining that sense of knowledge and sense of guardianship towards the bush. Mphaka One of the elements of sustainability, according to Meg, is to be able to know the measurements. How much, or how many, are you selling, and how much money will it fetch. Faville That also ties into sustainability. We are using our creativity to create these packaged goods. For instance, the scale that we use to measure is the same scale that they measure the children every month for the early development, maintaining the weight every month, as you know. So what I do, as I alone did not measure those bags, but we made sure there was one woman in the group that knew very well how to measure. And she can in turn teach others in the future, or measure alone the next time. Mphaka When you sit here in this village. You look around at what is happening, what do you think the outside world can do to help the people in the village so that in future, they can be self sufficient? Faville I think that?s a problem actually is looking to the outside world instead of looking within. Women here are very strong, stronger than a lot of women that I have seen in America, and I think they have to recognize that within themselves, to see that they are not alone. And they also are not unable to be self reliant. They have the traditional knowledge, and they have the strength and the togetherness to make some very wonderful things accomplished here. And I think they need someone may be from the outside like me to recognize that in them and try to empower them to be more self sufficient. Mphaka Meg Faville, a Peace Corp volunteer resident in Zithani village in the outskirts of Chimaliro Forest in Kasungu district. Meanwhile, there are less unprocessed mushrooms for sale by the roadside in the area because the women have seen the value of processing their product. They are now happier and can sing praises about their newly acquired knowledge. (SFX - women?s song fades out). End of track.