How can I grow mushrooms naturally? Joan Mirembe
The demand for mushrooms is more than supply. This, therefore, means buyers have to import from elsewhere as local farmers cannot sustain the demand and herein lies a lucrative business opportunity for you to invest in.
Mushrooms can grow in almost every part of our country provided there is reliable water supply and stable temperature in the range of 15 to 30 degrees, to gain from mushroom growing, you must have the following:
Step 1: Get land about 1/8th of an acre to plant your mushroom crop. This is enough to set up a large farm that can produce as much as two tonnes of mushrooms after every two months (using shelf-frame method).
Step 2: Build a simple mud-house and a few wooden shelves to utilise the available vertical space. The shelves can be done by a local carpenter. It is possible to use the locally available materials to save construction cost. However, the house should be well aerated to allow proper air circulation.
Step 3: Look for the substrate. This is basically the substance on which mushrooms grow. It can be forest soil, wheat straw, bean straw, millet straw or even rice straw. Make sure this is sterilised as the slightest bacterial infection can ruin your entire farm. You will need about 20 bales of wheat straw and a bale costs Shs7,000.
Step 4: Buy nylon bags (big and small sized). The small ones are to prepare the seedlings and the big ones for the final planting. Bigger bags can cost as much as Shs400 per piece and you will require about 1,000 of them in a 1/8th acre farm.
Step 5: Good hygiene is important in a mushroom farm. You will therefore need hand gloves, methylated spirit and cotton wool. A box full of gloves costs less than Shs35,000 and the same cost go for methylated spirit and cotton wool. Other additional supplies that may be needed include drinking straws (Shs35,000) and a knapsack sprayer (Shs40,000).
Step 6: Get some mushroom seedlings (mostly button spawns). These can be bought from trusted suppliers. A kilogramme of button spawns costs Shs35,000 and five kilogrammes can be enough for a start. Other varieties of mushrooms you can plant include: shiitake and oyster.
Answered by Dr Samuel Nsubuga, an agronomist with Smart Agribusiness Forum Africa (SAFA)