Mushroom farming is a sector that has not been well explored in Kenya yet it is a profitable one. Most people have not considered venturing into this type of farming simply because not many of us consume the meal, or if we do that happens when we have attended a celebration and it happens to be on the menu.
Agribusiness is one area that is currently earning Kenyans who have taken it seriously well. This is an area that tends to bring back great returns if well invested in, and that is why we need to consider putting in more efforts through trying out new farming methods that include mushroom farming. Mushroom farming has huge prospects, but more farmers are yet to take it up as a commercial venture.
There are a number of ways that can be used to plant this fungi, and the easiest and cost effective one is using a grass-thatched mud house. An 8 by 10 feet structure is enough to grow mushrooms. This may sound weird, but yes, this structure has been stated to be the best as far as mushroom farming is concerned. The structure should be rodent-proof so as to keep off rats. It also has to be initially dark before introducing some light later on.
Mushrooms, which have 80 to 90 percent water content, need a humid environment to thrive. To achieve that, one has to keep sprinkling water in the room throughout the day. At the start of the planting process, the mushroom seed or the spawn is not planted in soil but in substrate, which made up of agricultural wastes. Almost anything that is cultivated on land is a potential substrate for mushroom cultivation and this includes wheat straw, rice, banana and coconut waste, maize cobs, sawdust and even water hyacinth. Anything from the legume family, such as bean waste, is also great because of the nitrogen content. You need bags for placing the substrate and spawn in to sprout the mushrooms. Polythene bags with a 2 kilogram are the most preferred.
Just as stated earlier, mushroom cultivation is not one of those expensive methods of farming as a 1-kilogram bag, which might range between 600 shillings to 800 shillings yields not less than 35 bags of mushroom.
The agricultural waste is then shredded into small pieces and soaked in water overnight or for two days. After wetting it, it is mixed with supplements like wheat bran or maize bran. Next pasteurize the substrate by placing it over constant heat for six hours. Pasteurizing kills micro-organisms like bacteria, because mushroom is a decomposer and you do not want anything else grow other than your edible fungi as this would destroy the crop.
After the substrate has cooled, the spawn is then introduced mixing it with the substrate inside the bags which are then taken into the house, placed on the shelves and incubated for two weeks without being touched. During these two weeks, the substrate will be colonizing, until it turns completely white, and when this happens, small holes are made around the bags so that the mushrooms can start sprouting. A little light is the introduced at this stage after making the holes. The room should be humid. Temperatures should also be between 18 to 21 degrees.
It takes two months to get a mushroom harvest. A kilogram of spawn is enough for 40 bags and each bag ideally produces 2 to 2.5 kilogram of mushrooms which can be sold at a price of 400 shillings for every kilogram.
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