In 2011 Ester Jerome Mtegule was named Oxfam Ireland’s first ever Mama Shujaa Wa Chakula, or Female Food Hero.
Female Food Heroes are celebrated for successfully improving their food production, sharing their innovations and raising the profile of female farmers, who produce the majority of the food in Tanzania.
Ester who supports her five children and mother on her farm in Lyenge, Tanzania, increased her sorghum yields from five to 75 bags a year.
I will do everything to support women food producers. They bring peace and harmony in their families and a nation at large. And they bring freedom. I assure you that a food insecure family is not a free family
A 1,000 strong public vote awarded Ester first prize in the reality TV style competition. She competed with 9 other finalists, selected from 7,000 entries, in a farming ‘boot camp’. These women farmers’ remarkable stories touched the nation, triggering debate on women’s role in food production at a national level.
Reaching an estimated 25 million Tanzanians, the contest raises awareness around women’s rights, climate change, sustainable farming, HIV and telecommunications in entrepreneurship.
Ester now represents farmers on her local council and shares her prize of a tractor within her community. Named one of AlertNet’s Top 10 Global Food Trailblazer in 2012, Ester has travelled internationally talking about the role of small-scale women farmers.
“I will do everything to support women food producers,” Ester said. “They bring peace and harmony in their families and a nation at large. And they bring freedom. I assure you that a food insecure family is not a free family.”
We provide funding to Oxfam Ireland for their work in Tanzania. See a breakdown of our funding.