New Cookbook Highlights Vibrant Community of Women in Mozambique
No matter where you are in the world, people connect with food. For the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Research (SIL), finding ways to include soy in local foods presents an opportunity to improve nutrition and increase demand for the crop. In addition, developing recipes that include soy offers a way for local women to be more equitably involved in the soy farming, processing and cooking processes. SIL is assessing issues of gender equity and the role of women within sustainable soybean systems.
One of the goals is to understand gender inequalities in the agriculture sector to help transition rural women, their families and communities toward improved food security, health and economic development.
Nina Furstenau, SIL researcher and Program Director with the Division of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Missouri, has collaborated with a group of women in Rotanda, Mozambique to create a low-literacy cookbook highlighting traditional recipes with higher protein ingredients to improve nutrition. Tasty! Mozambique offers step-by-step photo-based instructions on tasty new dishes for the area, too, such as soy bread, soy donuts and badjias made from soy, among others.
In the Rotanda and Sussundenga communities in western Mozambique, as well as in most villages in the region, women are responsible for farming, cooking and providing meals for their families. They make many purchasing decisions including those that involve food. Socially, they rely on each other for access to goods, farming advice, help in times of need and preparing foods that require extra hands. They do these tasks with an eye to providing for their families and have distinct flavor preferences in their dishes.
Furstenau traveled to these communities with photographer Allison Smythe to document the day to day lives of local women, train the women to process soy into ingredients for the recipes and to photograph the process for the low-literacy recipe cards. The women shared their favorite dishes and described how they make decisions and care for their families, especially in regard to their meals. The women also offered feedback on available cooking tools to ensure that the recipes could be recreated locally.
The Tasty! Mozambique cookbooks have been distributed to project partners, nutrition and agricultural development organizations, government agencies and USAID implementers and made available to the general public.
The women who contributed to the cookbooks were also trained in creating a working group for an entrepreneurial project. The women collectively make small soy cookies they named “spare change biscuits” to be sold roadside to travelers, passersby and children. Using a hand grinder and strainer they collectively purchased from nearby Zimbabwe, the women split the profits from the endeavor among themselves and use the money to improve the livelihoods of their families. They are also the trainers for the next women's groups that form to make and sell soy biscuits, which builds leadership skills in the community.
Tasty! Mozambique and the Income Generation project are part of a broader team of SIL researchers working on gender equity and women's empowerment in soy farming. The research team aims to identify constraints for women integrating soybean into their cropping mix, household diet and income generation.
Learn more about the project and access the cookbook on our website. Stay tuned to SIL’s newsletters and digests for updates!