How mushrooms could mean economic independence for Benin’s women

Some rural women could find a way through the challenges brought by climate crisis, inequality and conflict by cultivating fungi in the former Marxist state

At the forest’s edge, a scientist is giving a lesson on the mushrooms that grow here in the damp ground around the trees of Toui-Kilibo reserve in Benin. Olyvia Fadeyi is a mycologist – she studies fungi – and is teaching the women from the village of Yaoui how best to harness the economic value of this strangest of crops. Mushrooms can be cultivated year round, in back gardens, on vertically stacked shelves, rather than waiting for the naturally abundant ones in the rainy season.

“There are 40 species, of which only 2% are currently harvested,” says Fadeyi. “I want to empower these women and help them break free from the pressures of society.”

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