Due to public demand, we took the initiative of compiling a guide to help farmers interested in starting mushroom farming in kenya
The mushroom farming process can be divided into several steps namely
4.fruiting/growth and harvesting
Compost is prepared so as to provide the mushrooms with a base to grow on. The preparation process is intended to provide the nutrients suitable for mushrooms to grow. There are several ways of making compost but the most common one is using wheat straws. Initially horse manure was used but due to its scarcity, other materials were used.
The process involves mixing the ingredients spraying water and turning the compost. The compost should be piled into stacks measuring about 1.5m*1.5m .The wheat straws should not be too compact but just firm. The turning process can be done by hand. Wheat straws are good for mushroom farming in kenya, wheat straws can be bought from wheat farms in areas such as Narok, Nakuru and Eldoret.
Here are the ingredients required in making synthetic compost .Wheat straw (chopped 8-20cm long)-250kg, Wheat/rice bran-20kg/cotton seed meal, Ammonium sulphate/calcium ammonium nitrate-3 kg, Urea-3kg, Gypsum-20kg.
The compost heaps should be turned every two days to allow for aeration and proper watering. It also allows the wheat straws to be moved to warmer parts of the pile.
An example of the turning program
1st turning – 4th day
2nd turning – 8th day
3rd turning – 12th day, add 10 kg gypsum
4th turning – 16th day, add 10 kg gypsum
Final turning – 20th day
Gypsum reduces greasiness that the straws would otherwise have and is a conditioning agent.
Cotton seed meal is the nitrogen supplements while ammonium nitrate and urea are added at the beginning to provide a ready source of nitrogen.
The by-products of composting is ammonia and heat so you should expect the temperatures to rise.
Compost is ready when the straws become easy to bend, and have a high water holding capacity, colour changes and becomes darker, and has a strong smell of ammonia.
The compost is then packed into clear bags. The bags should be preferably clear so as to make observation easier. It is important for a farmer to have an idea of the changes going on in the bag. It also makes spotting of diseases and infections easier.
The bags should then be put taken to the mushroom house/building and placed on ‘’shelves’’.
Compost preparation process is grueling and thankfully, farmers can now purchase already packaged compost ready for spawning. email to email@example.com for details
This is the actual process of planting the mushrooms. The spawn is spread on the surface of the compost and slightly penetrate the surface. The spawn must not be put deep into the compost surface. You can do this by making a small hole using your finger and planting the spawn.
The temperature of the room should be contained at around 25 degrees. A machine called a humidifier should be used to make the room humid. In the case where a humidifier is not available, water can be manually sprayed on the walls and floor of the room. This will work just as well as the humidifier machine.
Once the spawn has attached to the wheat straws and looks like white substance, soil is added to the surface of the compost. The soil should not be too much and only be a layer. Forest soil is preferred. However, the soil has to be treated to rid it of any insects. Formalin solution can be used to sterilize the soil. This must be done elsewhere before casing.
Mushrooms are harvested severally throughout its lifetime. These are called flushes. The first flush comes after 15-20 days after soil casing and 35-40 days after spawning. The mushrooms must be harvested at the right size otherwise they will become too big and rapture. A bag should produce at least a killo of mushrooms throughout its lifetime. The harvests can go up to fifth flush. It takes approximately 15 weeks from composting to end of harvesting.
A mushroom house should not be close to a cattle shed. This is because the flies from the cattle can contaminate the mushrooms.
For each kg of mushrooms, a farmer earns between ksh600 and ksh800. The major problem facing people practicing mushroom farming in kenya is marketing. Some farmers have come up with creative ways of adding value to mushrooms such as grinding dried mushrooms and using the powder to make mushroom porridge. This product is fast gaining popularity. Other ways of adding value is mushroom biscuits and other snacks.
Vegetarian hotels, indian restaurants, schools and other institutions are potential markets. Farmers just have to adopt marketing skills to succeed. With all these said, farming afrika has case studies of farmers making very good earnings from mushroom farming.Interested?contact us to be guided. email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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