mushroom farming in Kenya

Even though it is a highly valuable health food that fetches twice the price of beef, mushrooms remain an unpopular delicacy. Reports put mushroom production in Kenya at 500 tonnes annually with a potential demand of 30800 tonnes. He price for mushrooms is 500 shillings a kilo (fob 2010) higher than beef at 200 shillings a kilo. Horticultural crop development authority managing director Alfred Serem says if mushrooms were made available and promoted consumption can grow. H says mushroom production is fairly stable because consumption has not been expanding. “We have stepped up consumer awareness because farmers have to be assured of the market.” Mr. Serem said. Mushrooms are health because they are low in calories high in vegetable proteins, chitin, iron, zinc, fiber, essential amino acids vitamins and minerals. Olive farm a leading mushroom producer and exporter says its time for a shift in feeding habits. “With the problem of cholesterol Kenyans should know that mushrooms in not only a better product but alternative to meat.” Olive farm managing director Charles Njoroge says.”  People should start adopting this especially now with the health issues we are having” he says although some hospitals buy mushrooms many are yet to put them on patient’s menus.” I know mushrooms are expensive but they have added nutrients.” He says

Dr. Serem says initial cost for mushroom farming is very high which might be discouraging potential farmers but the returns are good. Mr. Njoroge a mechanical engineer says the most expensive thing for growing mushrooms apart from the spawn seeds or mushrooms. When he started farming mushrooms in 1997 Limuru imported the spawn from France but the French company opened a branch in South Africa to serve the African region later Mr. Njoroge started producing his own spawn. “So we put up our own lab and we are producing a lot of spawn not only for our own but also for other mushroom growers.” He said. Olive farm invested 3.5 million in the lab which has cut the cost of producing mushrooms by about 25%. “The beauty is that local mushroom farmers can buy spawn in small quantities you can’t get by importing.” He says. To assist small scale mushroom farmers increase there yields. His company plans to start selling compost embed with spawn. Compost provides nutrients for mushroom to grow. Wheat straw s the type of material used for mushrooms compost and requires the addition of nitrogen supplements, a conditioning agent, gypsum and other treatments.

“We want to partner with farmers,” he says. “They will be like our out growers such that we sell substrate to them and they will give us their mushrooms to sell some and dry and process.”

Mr. Njoroge says they will blend ingredient into powdered mushroom to produce pourrage for malnourished children. The large quantity of mushroom the company produces has given it a strong hold on the market. Olivefarm produces 38 tonnes a month and that is where we are intending to go.”  He says foreign tourists coming into the country would expand demand.

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