Carolina, Tanzanian Female Food Hero: “When women fight, nothing can stop them”

 “I am known for my role as a mentor to my peers and also as a hard worker. You are more likely to find me at the farm working and if you do not find me there, I am most likely at the women group meetings exchanging ideas with my peers.”
“I am known for my role as a mentor to my peers and also as a hard worker. You are more likely to find me at the farm working and if you do not find me there, I am most likely at the women group meetings exchanging ideas with my peers.”

Carolina Chelele won Season 5 of Female Food Heroes in Tanzania and has become a community leader. In addition to the grand prize, which included about $10,000, 7 acres of land, and farming and fishing tools, she says she has “generated a small amount of fame, which is wonderful.”

Now that she's a winner, the mother of four and the sole provider for her household educates family members and other people in her village about different farming methods. A few times a month, she goes on the local radio station. People call in and ask her about her experiences as a farmer and women's rights advocate. She answers questions like “How do I learn to make manure?” “How did I modernize my farming technique?” and of course, “How do I get on the show?”

New farming techniques

“When I think about my children’s needs it makes me work harder in life. My dream is to see all my children having gone to school and at the end of it, have a good job or be self-employed. When I think of this it makes me turn towards agriculture more because agriculture has been moving my life forward.”

When talking about her success in farming Carolina reflects on her neighbor, who inspired her success. Carolina says that “People are different and if we are lucky to have good neighbors, we should thank them. One of my neighbors is that person to me.”

“There was a training that my neighbor attended on good agriculture practices when I was still practicing simple agriculture techniques. I used to throw the seeds around while she would carefully plant them. She showed me new planting techniques and gave me seeds. What happened was I got bigger profit than I had before. I was overjoyed because before I used to farm on a big plot without much profit.“

Carolina believes that many people are not aware of farming techniques that can help them yield more so they farm with old basic techniques. She insists that with training women will become motivated to try different strategies to increase their incomes. “My advice is that we need to join groups so we can join our voices together and have a platform to speak.”

“As women our position has shifted greatly, it is not like how it was when we were thought of as being under the man’s feet. We are becoming liberated. We can stand on our own and grow, the only challenge is that there are people who still hold the old mentality.”

Women standing together

Reflecting on her childhood Carolina recalls what happened one day as she was returning from school. As Carolina walked through a dense forest, she noticed a group of boys who were talking and suddenly started to stare at her. She realized she was in danger and began to run and they pursued her.

Luckily, she saw a footpath that led to a liquor house. She ran towards it. The liquor house was run by a group of women. This is what saved her she says. She recalls how the women together stood to help her chase the boys away. “This history of mine has taught me that when women fight they can win, especially when they stand together, nothing can stop them”.