Kenyan agricultural sector has seen booms in several sectors including mushroom farming in kenya with many people adopting it as a way of either earning extra income or compensating for the lack of white collar. From rabbit farming to the recent quail farming rush, Kenyans have demonstrated that they are willing to adopt new farming techniques to earn some extra cash. Well, before hastily investing in ‘’new’’ farming ventures, one has to look into some facts to avoid hopping onto sinking ships.
Mushroom farming in kenya has been practiced for a long time with the vegetarian/non-meat eating population being the largest consumers of mushrooms. They are one of the only non-animal source of vitamin D. Mushrooms are also a weight loss food and have low calories fat carbohydrates and sodium. This makes it a perfect option for people looking to lose weight. Mushrooms have also proven to remarkably boost immunity.
The most common type of mushroom cultivated in Kenya is oyster mushroom and button mushroom. These two are some of the most widely eaten mushroom types.
To determine whether mushroom farming is viable in Kenya, we have to look at its production process. Mushrooms are grown on compost/substrate. The substrate which is prepared in a multistep process provides the nutrients necessary for the mushrooms to germinate. The compost is packed into clear polythene bags and spawn(seeds) scattered on the surface. Mushrooms require very little space to grow as it can be done in a room of any size provided the temperature and humidity can be controlled. Mushrooms also require a humid environment to grow and farmers spray the walls of the room with water to make the room humid.
From this process, the compost preparation is the most time consuming as it takes almost a month to complete the preparation process. It involves mixing wheat straws(or any other base) with urea, lime, cotton seed cake and water at intervals each time turning the mixture. Ready made substrate is however available for sale. This saves the farmer the problems related to substrate preparation.
Timothy from Farming Afrika used 200 bales of wheat straws buying each at ksh150, mixing ingredients plus labour cost him around ksh30,000 bringing his total expenditure to ksh60,000 and producing 500 planting bags. He made use of a room that was already in existence hence avoiding construction costs. Spawn cost him ksh20,000.
It took him 21 days after spawning to start harvesting the mushrooms. At the end of the harvest he had averaged 1kg per bag making his total harvest 500kg of mushrooms. A kg of sells for between ksh600 and ksh800 per kg making the returns between ksh300,000 and ksh500,000 from an investment of ksh 80,000.
After this dissecting, we conclude that mushroom farming is indeed viable provided a farmer tackles the ever menacing problem of marketing.
The market for mushrooms is continuously growing. This is mostly due to the urge by many Kenyans to adopt healthy eating habits. As stated above, the health benefits of mushrooms are endless.
Some markets for mushrooms are vegetarian restaurants, supermarkets, individuals who do not eat meat, the health conscious people, ordinary restaurants etc.
Farmers should also think outside the box to create unique market. Adding value to mushrooms could open up market for farmers. For example making mushroom soup or using mushrooms or mushroom cake flavours, mushroom porridge
Farming Afrika will publish a step by step guide on how to start Mushroom Farming in Kenya. For more details or questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.