MUSHROOM FARMING

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Mushroom Farming
Oyster Mushrooms 
Now there is no more reason to claim that you lack capital to start a business. Mushroom farming has come to the rescue of all entrepreneurs who have the drive but lack the financial muscle to start big businesses. Mushroom farming in Kenya is probably the cheapest and easiest to start and it would be highly suitable to the youth who are most often cash strapped. A mushroom is a macro fungus with a distinctive fruiting body. The fruiting body is large enough to be seen by the naked eye.

Capital 
As indicated above, mushroom farming requires very little capital to start with. You can start with Ksh. 10,000 or less. What is needed is a room, Substrate – which is the material upon which mushroom grows and Spawn – which is the seed. Even though this is farming, you don’t need a farm.

Shitake Mushrooms
  • Knowledge Requirement
Mushroom grows on Substrate – just think of it as substitute for soil. Substrate is simply organic waste from the farms. This includes; wheat straw, rice straw, saw dust, cotton seed hulls, sugarcane burgesses, bean straw  and Maize straw. You will need to learn how to prepare substrates. Alternatively, you can purchase it ready made. Jomo Kenyatta University at Juja sells ready made sterilized substrate at about Ksh 80.00. You can explore the option of contacting them so that they can be sending them to you through courier delivery services on established public transport services to where you live. Moi University at Chepkoilel  sell hybrid mushroom spawn. 
Harvested Oyster Mushrooms
  • Value Addition
You can add value by making mushroom-based porridge flour that is slowly gaining acceptance in the market. Some people who don’t take fresh mushrooms prefer to take it in processed forms. In Kenya,  farmers mostly grow the Shitake mushrooms which have medicinal properties and Oyster mushrooms that are rich in nutrients. When they are ground and mixed with amaranth and sorghum they make delicious porridge mix.
Mushrooms powder can also be extracted as active compounds for their medicinal value or used to make mushroom based products. Among the products that can be made is reishi coffee and tea. These are beverage products based on the reishi mushroom which is known to be medicinal . The  health conscious consumers  provide the market for these drinks and it serves as an alternative to herbal teas that are the rave currently. Processing mushroom increases the shelf life as well. Drying for instance extends the shelf life of fresh mushrooms from three days to three months.

A delicious meal of Mushrooms
  • Challenges
There is some cultural perception and bias concerning mushrooms that have hindered the consumption in the local market. But this can be dealt with by integrating it in other products as noted above. The slow uptake of the business by farmers has led to a shortage in the market thus making the product expensive and bringing about the perception that it is a rich man’s meal.
  • Growth potential
The demand for mushrooms in Kenya far outstrips the supply. The country has to import additional products from China just to satisfy the market. The growth potential in this business is big. 
  • Market
Market demand usually dictates a mushroom grower’s choice of what variety to propagate. Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are usually recommended for beginners. They not only have an existing market, but can be raised in many substrates, on small scale with moderate investment. Volume is dictated in the same way by market demand. Before deciding on your production, survey volume demand, prices by talking to potential buyers and other producers
  • Competition
You don’t have to worry about the Competition in this business. The demand for the product is there and there are few producers.