Mushroom farming in Kenya
Mushroom farming in Kenya
Mushroom Kenya cover image
Mushroom Kenya cover image
Mushroom farming in Kenya is on the rise since the year 2012 and many farmers have been asking questions such as; Is mushroom farming profitable in Kenya?, How much money do you need to start a mushroom farm?, How can I start mushroom farming in Kenya?, Where can I learn mushroom farming in Kenya? and more. The exact mushroom demand in Kenya as at now in 2021 is not known. Many farmers are relying on a statistics from the National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS), that indicated that Kenya produces 500 tonnes of mushrooms per year against a demand of 1200 tonnes 10 years ago. The data still hold relevance in the sense that the demand has greatly risen more than 1200 and the production has also risen substantially since many farmers have since joined the mushroom production. The daily imports of mushrooms alone in Kenya in 2019 had hit 3 tonnes that translates to approximately 1080 tonnes per year, yet the local produce from farmers still find its way to the market. The mushroom demand has risen so high in Kenya for various reasons;
  1. Mushrooms are high in nutrition's - Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They may also mitigate the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They're also great sources of: Selenium.
  2. The changing eating lifestyle - Kenya is seeing a rise of middle class who are so much concerned about what they are eating. These group is embracing healthy eating habits such as consuming organic foods where mushrooms comes in as a substitute to meat.
  3. There is increased awareness about mushroom faming - Now mushrooms are not new in Kenya, many people have either seen or eaten mushrooms but they have been considered wild and that they only grow when it rains. When the consumers realize that mushrooms can be grown and that they can get them when they need, then the orders starts coming in thereby increasing the demand.
Mushrooms can grow in almost every part of our country provided there is shelter, reliable water supply and stable temperature in the range of 15 to 30 degrees. Common Varieties of Mushrooms in Kenya There are thousand types of mushrooms varieties that exists that are commonly grouped as edible, poisonous, medicinal and psychoactive, but in Kenya; 5 varieties are common among the locals. The 5 most common types are:
  1. White Button Mushrooms
Button Mushrooms In Kenya, white button mushrooms are the leading type of mushrooms with more than 80% market share. Its very popular because of its chewy taste that feels to many like chewing meat and also its nutrition of 6% protein (3.1g of protein in 100g of white button mushrooms), 0 mg cholesterol, 0.3 g fat, 5mg sodium, 318 mg Potassium and 3.3 g carbohydrate.    2. Oyster Mushrooms Oyster mushrooms are beloved the world over for their delicate texture and mild, savory flavor. The mushrooms typically have broad, thin, oyster- or fan-shaped caps and are white, gray, or tan, with gills lining the underside. They are possibly the easiest variety of mushroom to grow. They are super quick, relatively resistant to competitor organisms. Also a popular type of mushroom linked to several health benefits. In addition to being highly nutritious with 3 grams of protein when you consume a cup of oyster mushrooms.
  1. Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular edible mushrooms in the world, native to East Asia. They are slender and light brown, with a tough, inedible stem. Apart from its nutrition, its also commonly used for its anti aging  antioxidant L-ergothioneine, which helps prevent cell breakdown and helps exfoliate the skin.        3. Portobello Mushrooms Portobello mushrooms (aka portobella or portabella) are one of the most widely consumed mushroom varieties in the world 4. Reishi /Ganoderma Lucidum Mushroom's Lingzhi, Ganoderma lingzhi, also known as reishi are among several medicinal mushrooms that are used to help enhance the immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue. People also take reishi mushroom for health conditions such as: High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Requirements to start a mushroom Farm
  1. Mushroom growing structure
Mushrooms are grown both indoors and outdoors depending on the type. The mushroom structures are used to simply help the farmer manage the right conditions necessary for the growth of mushrooms such as humidity, temperature, carbon concentration and light. There are so many types of structures that can be used to grow mushrooms such as;
  • Mud Houses - The most preferred by Kenyan farmers because its cheaper to setup, semi- temporary and easy to maintain.
  • Stone House - The best structure if you want to mechanize your farm and use some form of machinery such as humidifiers)
  • Wooden Houses
  • Green House - Ideal in areas with moderate conditions because the green house can get so hot when the area is hot. A smart greenhouse that can control the conditions automatically is the most preferred.
  • Underground Houses - Suitable for areas that are very hot such as the coast region of Kenya.
  • Earthbag Houses - These are improved mud houses that look more neat and professional. They are most preferred in urban areas where the residence laws do not allow mud Houses.
  • Mabati Houses - They are not highly recommended but can work when improved such as doing some form of insulation to reduce the heat in the grow rooms. Styrofoam is the most preferred insulation material for the houses.
The average cost of building a mushroom structure varies depending on a number of factors such as the type of materials, location, size and more. The average cost ranges between Ksh 1,700 - 3,000 per square meter. 2. Mushroom Substrate (Soil) 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. Button mushrooms being secondary consumer, a farmer will have to prepare the compost for approximately one month using organic matter such as wheat straw supplemented with all the nutrients that the mushrooms will need. But, for Oyster, you just need the fresh straw and sterilize mainly by steaming because its a primary decomposer, it can decompose the organic matter e.g the straw to make its own food. 3. Mushroom Spawn (Seeds) The mushroom Spawn or seed is the living fungal culture, called mycelium, grown onto a substrate. It provides the backbone to any mushroom growing operation. Unlike seeds, though, mushroom spawn is grown from selected genetics and cloned for consistent production of a particular cultivar of mushroom. In Kenya, there are a number of spawn suppliers and labs where you can get the spawns such as Mushroom Kenya, JKUAT, Kenya National Museums, KIRDI and other independent farmers that we can provide you their contacts when you reach out to us on +254 735 803 239 / +254 705 210 033 (Text/call/WhatsApp/Telegram). The prices depends on the types such as Oyster mushrooms Ksh 600 per kilo, Button Mushrooms Ksh 1,100 per kilo, Shiitake Mushrooms Ksh 1,500 per Kilo and Reishi Mushrooms Ksh 1,500 per kilo. A kilo of mushrooms does approximately 30 bags of mushrooms which can produce approx. 1kg per bag. Many farmers in Kenya have a liking of the Sylvan Spawn imported from either Netherlands or South Africa for its quality has been tried and proves to be good. Other imported spawn includes; Belgium spawn from Mycelia. 4. Simple farm equipment's Once you have the structure, the substrate and spawn; you now need simple tools at the farm that will make work easier. Some of the common tools in a mushroom farm include;
  • Knapsack sprayer for misting and watering the mushrooms
  • Harvesting tools such as knives, punnets, cling film, trays, stickers and weighing scale.
  • substrate preparation tools such as watering can, drums, polyethene rolls, fork, gumboots, overalls and watering pipes.
5. Mushroom Farming Knowledge One of the main mistakes that many farmers do is that they don't take enough time to learn about the tips and tricks of mushroom growing. Mushrooms is one of the most sensitive crops and a simple mistake can ruin your entire investment. Farmers are advised to seek professional help from experts such as farmers, mycologists and market icons to guide them through the journey of growing mushrooms. You should also spend time doing research and get hands on experience because its easier said than done. Different farms offer trainings and even mentorship at different rates ranging from Ksh 2,000 - 15,000 per person trained but the farmer which is nothing compared to loosing your entire investment trying to depend on own knowledge. 6. Market for your Mushrooms Once you have successfully grown your mushrooms, you now need market unless you were growing for your own consumption. The market rates in Kenya are as follows; Ksh 600-800 a kg for button mushrooms, Ksh 400-600 a kg for oyster mushrooms and 12000 -16,000 a kg for Reishi Mushroom's. Getting Started in Mushroom Farming To get stated in farming the mushrooms, the farmer first need to be clear about the type of mushrooms they want to grow because each type of mushrooms' are grown differently and that if you know how to grow one type, you dont know how to grow the other types. Below is a universal procedure of the growing process irrespective of the type that you want to to grow.
  1. Get trained or do research to determine which type of mushrooms you want to do
  2. Set up a simple mushroom structure (House)
  3. Prepare the mushroom substrate
  4. plant the mushrooms (Spawn)
  5. Incubate
  6. Start Harvesting
The Dos (1)Keep the growing environment clean and sterile always (2)It’s advisable to experiment with a small farm before venturing into a big farm (3)Consult an agriculture extension officer in your area for further advice (4)Seek mentorship from farmers who are already doing this to understand what challenges they face (5)Explore your market options in advance to avoid last minute surprises and disappointments The Don’ts (1)Don’t take shortcuts, mushrooms are very delicate crops and you can lose your entire investment if you don’t follow professional advice in handling them (2)Don’t buy seeds (spawns) from cheaper sources, always buy from reputable sellers e.g. JKUAT (3)Don’t forget that cleanliness is at the center of your farm’s productivity (again, and again) (4)Don’t be in a rush, take your time, like in any other business mushrooms take time to establish (5)Don’t stop learning, keep researching and keep enquiring to learn the best practices Final Word What most farmers will not tell you is that Mushroom farming is a bit expensive to start, quite cumbersome and labour intensive, but if you do it the right way, its very profitable. All you need to do is to put some effort in learning the best practices and combine that with the brilliant business strategies we teach you on our Mushroom Kenya Blog or visit Our farm.

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