By Fredrick Obura
Mushrooms are becoming popular because of their medicinal value. Experts say they are rich in proteins, fibre and vitamins. Other benefits include improvements of immune system by activating the helper “T” cells, lowering blood pressure, controlling cancer and liver disintegration disease.
“Mushrooms seed should be obtained from reputable sources to avoid contamination, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology” says Senior Technician Patrick Muchiri.Alternatively, one can
produce seeds by incubating a pasteurized medium, usually grain, with the sterile culture of a mushroom species. Pleurotus species (oyster) and shiitake (lentium edodes) mushrooms are common locally.
Oyster is easier to grow on a small scale with moderate initial investment.
Organic wastes from crop production or the food processing industry can be used to support production
“In a 20×10 feet room one can fit up to 400 bags and produce up to 300kg of fresh oyster” says Mr. Muchiri. Another advantage of growing oyster mushrooms is that a high percentage of its surface converts to fruiting bodies, increasing its profitability. Shiitake is a low input alternative enterprise.
Selection of the growing medium should be based on availability, cost and nutritional value, ensure the material is crispy dry and is free from any form of mould.
Mushrooms can be grown in unused buildings like go-downs and mud thatched houses. A life cycle takes about 15 weeks depending on individual species.
Each mushroom species prefer a particular growing medium, although some species can grow on a wide range of substrate.
Some of the growing medium include cereal straws, coffee husks, paper waste, papyrus, water hyacinth, banana fronds and maize cobs
Mushrooms do not contain chlorophyll and therefore depend on other plant material for their food.
Apply the right crop husbandry practice.