Mr. Kanyi with the Button Agaricus Bitorquis spawn in the soil laboratory.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has introduced new button mushroom variety called warm weather button mushroom (Agaricus bitorquise) which does well in warm weather condition areas as opposed to common variety (Agaricus phosphorus) hence easy to produce without spending more on lowering fruiting temperature.
“After realizing that most parts of Kenya experiences warm weather conditions, we introduced the new variety which fruits at 25 to 26 degrees centigrade as opposed to 19 to 20 degrees centigrade with the common variety,” said Patrick Kanyi Muchiri, Senior Technician at Institute for Biotechnology Research (IBR), JKUAT.
He says the cost of lowering temperature for the common button mushroom variety is higher by 30 per cent as compared to raising the same temperature for the warm weather variety, a factor which increases the cost of production for farmers.
RELATED CONTENT: How to grow mushrooms for export
According to National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS), mushrooms need incubation temperature of 20-27 degrees centigrade and 10-18 degrees centigrade for fruition.
Button mushrooms are widely cultivated by large scale farmers compared to small scale farmers as their production requires high input technology.
Research done by JKUAT shows that, there is a huge shortage of mushroom supply locally. The main reason for this is that there was no institution that was producing certified mushroom seeds (Spawn) and training farmers on mushroom production.
In addition, the institution has further reduced hands on training fees from Sh15,000 per participant to Sh10,000 per participant for three days training period in a bid to entice more farmers into the lucrative venture.
“Our training programme will include, raw materials selection, production technologies, gross margin analysis, climate control, growing structures, packaging, preservation, pest and diseases, utilization, marketing, post-harvest and quality control of fresh mushroom,” said Kanyi.
Trainings are offered every month throughout the year.
The institution also sells mushroom seeds (spawn); Button spawn, Agaricus bisphorus, agaricus bitorquise(Warm weather) goes at Sh600 a litre, Oyster also at Sh600 a litre while shiitake and Ganoderma sells at Sh1,000 per litre.
Ready substrates are also sold; Button substrate goes at Sh55 per kilo and Sh550 for 10kg bag inclusive of casing soil, Oyster substrate is sold at Sh90 per kilo, Shiitake and Ganoderma substrates sells at Sh100 per kilo while the casing soil goes at six shillings a kilo.