Mushroom farming is not only a unique agribusiness adventure but also a good return on investment. In recent times Kenyan farmers have ventured into this farming and none has complaint yet!
The demand for this farm produce continues to increase as people become intentional about eating healthy foods.
In this article, we discuss how to become a mushroom farmer and enjoy this venture in the long term.
Mushrooms are edible fungi that grow on decaying organic matter. Making them easy to grow in any geographical location.
The maturity period for mushrooms is 2 – 4 months depending on the species. The short growth period makes it a good economic venture with quick returns.
Mushrooms are among the healthy foods. Contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, and minerals they are low in fat. Making them a good protein substitute for vegetarians and vegans alike.
With a fast growth rate spanning from 2 to 4 months mushrooms give a good economic value. Within the growth periods temperatures of 15 – 30 centigrade are maintained.
In Kenya, leading institutions such as the Jomo Kenyatta University and Technology (JKUAT). Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) offers training and technical know-how on mushroom farming.
Did you know even though mushrooms grow on decaying organic matter they must have good ventilation and high levels of hygiene to achieve high yields and prevent contamination? Now you know!
Types of Mushrooms
Boasting over 100,000 species of fungi, it is important to know what type of mushroom you want to farm. Commonly found in Kenya are;
· The Button Mushroom
· Oyster Mushroom
· Shiitake Mushrooms
· Chinese Mushrooms are better known as the Ganoderma.
On that note, it is wise to know that some of the mushroom species are poisonous making them unfit for human consumption.
Journey to Mushroom Husbandry
Even though mushrooms are grown in a well-ventilated mud house. Acquiring land for related actions is key to the project.
You need enough land space for mixing the substrate. Building the farming structure, and creating compost manure from the used substrate.
Build a Structure (Mud House)
As I earlier mentioned mushrooms are grown indoors. Thus how you construct the house influences the yields.
Construct a well-ventilated mud house with no lighting for the highest yields ever. Once the outer structure is done install shelves that become your base for placing all the substrate bags.
It is important to construct shelves that can handle the substrate weight. Mushrooms need minimal light for their growth and plenty of clean water to germinate.
Make your buy from recognized agricultural institutions or reputable farms. KARI, JKUAT, Devani, Kanchan, Rift Valley Mushrooms.
Mushrooms grow from a substance known as spawns introduced to the substrate after 2 weeks of preparation. The substrate here plays the role of soil in normal farming understanding.
The substrate can be made from wheat, bean or rice straw, forest soil, and any other straw that will provide high levels of nitrogen.
An important point to note, mushrooms are infectious always sterilize the straw before planting to clear off bacteria.
Buy Nylon Bags
Once the substrate is ready for use. It is packed in small packs that allow for ease of handling. Never use bags that become a hazard to you when managing your farming venture. A normal bag weight of 2 kilograms comes highly recommended.
During the packing, the stage introduces the spawns by mixing with the substrate then closing the bags and placing them inside the mud house.
It takes 21 days for a well-packed substrate to develop a good mycelium (a white cast that forms around the substrate).
Once you observe good coverage of mycelium it’s time to introduce light into the mud house. Poke holes into the bags to help mushroom germination.
After 4 to 5 days mushrooms will start to sprout from the packed substrate. Marking the beginning of the last phase of growth. Mushrooms contain 90% of water while fresh after harvest making them highly perishable produce.
Water is a critical element in mushroom growth therefore have a scheduled watering plan to promote growth.
Water should be sprayed onto the mushrooms using a knapsack sprayer with the water snooze at a misty level to avoid contamination.
Mushrooms mature in 2 – 4 months a good short-span agribusiness venture with high returns. A business opportunity you can indulge in on various levels from small or large scale, side hustle, or full-time venture.
A kilogram of button mushrooms sells at Ksh 400.
One substrate pack can produce yields of up to 5 kilograms. (400*500) 200,000
The initial cost of production is ksh; 500 – 1000 (1Kg of Spawns)
These numbers arouse curiosity on another level!
The market demand for mushrooms in Kenya is high and large. Importing 90 percent of its mushroom from America, Netherlands, Poland, and China to mention but a few.
There is a guaranteed return on interest for the mushroom produce in Kenya, especially in the hospitality Industry.
A good farmer is always looking for opportunities to recycle or repurpose items within their surroundings. The used compost is good manure, packed in bales of 50 kilograms giving a good return on the value of Ksh; 2500.
Good business solves a current community problem. Mushroom farming solves not one but several community problems. What are you waiting for start your mushroom venture now!