Mushroom farming in Kenya is gaining momentum day in day out. Mushroom in Kenya according to NAFIS is valued at Ksh 340 million. It is produced in large scale amounting to 95% where most of it is button. The second after button though not common in Kenya is Shitake. Oyster mushroom is picking up since it is easy to grow, has higher yields and has more nutritional value compared to button. Because of its lower cost of production and high yielding capacity is offers a good opportunity for small scale farmers. There are several farms that are venturing and doing well in mushroom farming such as, Agridutt Ltd, Rift valley mushrooms, Devani nad Kanchan mushrooms and online mushrooms.
Definition of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are edible fungi that can grow on decaying organic matter, commonly known as substrate. Mushrooms are different from other crops as they do not require sunlight to grow. They start very small spawns. The spawns will grow in the substrate to produce a fine white fibrous structure called mycelium. From the mycelium the mushroom fruit is produced. This is the part that is harvested.
Mushrooms are known to have a high nutritional value and are high in protein. They are also a good source of vitamins (B1, B2, B12 and C), essential amino acids, and carbohydrates but are low in fat and fibre and contain no starch. When fresh they have a very high-water content of around 90%. Minerals present include phosphorus, potassium, iron and copper. Mushrooms grow in bursts known as flushes approximately every 7 to 10 days for a few weeks with yields falling over time. The first three flushes yield more than 70% of the total. The growing time will be dependent on type of mushroom and the growing conditions.
Common Types of Mushrooms
There are several types of mushrooms. However; it is found that there are those that are edible and non-edible ones. The edible ones include:-
- Button -Agaricus
- Oyster -Pleurotous
- Shiitake -Lentinula Edodes
- Straw -Volvallella volvacea
- Chinese mushroom – Ganoderma
Mushroom Farming in Kenya
Provided there are desirable conditions such as shelter, reliable water supply and stable temperature (15-30 degrees) mushrooms can grow in almost every part of our country. Below are the various steps you will need to grow mushrooms.
Step 1: Getting Started: A quarter acre of land is enough for starters to set up a large farm that can produce as much as 2 tonnes of mushrooms after every 2 months
Step 2: Build a Simple House: O It is required you built a simple mud house and wooden shelves to utilize the vertical space available. Your local carpenter can help you with this and you can improvise on locally available materials to save on construction cost. Ensure the house is well aerated to allow proper circulation of air.
Step 3: Look for the substrate: Substrate is basically the substance on which mushrooms grow. This can be forest soil, wheat straw, bean straw, millet straw or even rice straw. Make sure this is sterilized as the slightest bacterial infection can ruin your entire farm. You will need about 20 bales of straws.
Step 4: Invest In Nylon Bags: You will need small bags to prepare the seedlings and also big bags for the final planting. Small bags like the ones shopkeepers use to package 2KG sugar normally cost about Ksh100 for 200 pieces. Bigger bags can cost as much as Ksh15 per piece and you will require about 1000 of them in a 1/8 th acre farm.
Step 5: Invest In Good Hygiene: Good hygiene is important in a mushroom farm. You will therefore need to buy things like hand gloves, methylated spirit and cotton wool. A box full of gloves costs less than Ksh1,000 – same for methylated spirit and cotton wool. Other additional supplies that may be needed include drinking straws (Ksh1,000) and a knapsack sprayer (Ksh5,000 est).
Step 6: Now Get The Seeds: Finally you will require some mushroom seedlings (also known as spawns). The most popular (and easy to market) spawns are called button spawns. You can buy these from KARI or JKUAT. A Kilogram of button spawns costs Ksh1,000. 5 Kilograms will be enough to get you started. Other varieties of mushrooms you can plant including: shiitake and oyster.
Although its quite cumbersome and labour intensive, mushroom farming is a very lucrative business. What you need is to learn from the best, combine that with your business skills and you are good to go. The market is gaining momentum due to population increase. Many people are today eating healthy due to diseases associated with lifestyles and for farmers this is the best time to produce what the customer needs.
For the All type of Fruit tree seedlings We at oxfarm we do propagate and sell quality certified seedlings to farmers at the best prices for each seedling as above. We also assist in establishment of orchards and for all types of fruit trees. In order to learn more visit our demo farm at ridge ways Kiambu road or in Nyeri. Contact 0706222888 To get directions Call/Text/ WhatsApp us on 0706222888