Women initiate a successful mushroom business in Indonesia

Women initiate a successful mushroom business in Indonesia

Indonesia - 04 September, 2018

In 2017, Tropenbos Indonesia initiated a partnership between the village of Laman Satong in West Kalimantan and the oil palm company PT Kayong Agro Lestari, which owns the nearby oil palm plantation.

The purpose was twofold. The first goal was to increase the income of women by creating alternative livelihood options. Most women depend economically on their husbands, who work at the oil palm plantation. Second, if incomes increase, the surrounding forest will be less threatened, since the villagers will be less dependent on the extraction of natural resources from the forest for their daily survival.

A pilot organic mushroom farm run by women’s groups in Laman Satong was started, as well as a nursery for the restoration of corridor areas. The oil palm company provided the funds to build the mushroom house, while Tropenbos Indonesia facilitated the preparation of the growing medium for the mushrooms, mentored the daily care of the mushrooms, and taught the women harvesting techniques and post-harvesting production options such as processing the mushrooms into snacks.

The pilot has demonstrated that non-palm oil livelihoods are possible. The women harvest a total of three to four kilograms of mushrooms every day. They supply fresh mushrooms to the local market and to the kitchen of the oil palm company. This generates an extra income of 30,000 rupiahs per kilo. The benefits for the women are not merely financial. The project has also strengthened their self-confidence and they have gained recognition from the village government.

Word of the success of the mushroom farm is spreading fast. Women’s groups from other villages have been visiting the mushroom house and wish to start a similar business in their own villages. The Gunung Palung National Park authorities plan to replicate the business in villages surrounding the park, while the local NGO ASRI wants to introduce the model in its chainsaw buyback programme.

Published in the Annual Report 2017 

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