After the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched the Nepal Recovery and Rehabilitation Project to help build a disaster resilient country. Some of the priority areas of the project included job creation and empowerment of Nepal’s vulnerable populations, including women. JICA teamed up with the Yamasho Corporation to economically empower women by creating a market for moxa. Moxa means “burning herb” in Japanese and is harvested from the mugwort plant to be used for traditional medicine therapy. There are no moxa producers in Nepal and the mugwort plant is not recognized as having any market value. Thus, there is limited competition to enter the moxa market.
IC Net worked with the Japan Cooperation International Agency (JICA) and the Yamasho Corporation to secure the supply of the mugwort plant which included the identification of regions where the plant grows natively, survey the feasibility of disseminating mugwort cultivation techniques, and incorporate a gender lens across the supply chain. IC Net also conducted research into selling moxa in the domestic market. The employment of Nepali women in moxa production through mugwort cultivation allows them to generate income from a new and untapped market and invests in their economic empowerment.