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Small-scale farmers who are making over Sh0.5m a year from mushroom farming

mushroom paul kisiangani

Mr. Paul Kisiangani, mushroom farmer from Kakamega besides his sprouting mushrooms. He has so far started a youth group where they produce the crop and sell collectively to they buyers. Photo courtesy.

Besides mushroom being dominated by large-scale farmers across the country, there are some smallholder farmers who have embraced the venture and are now making over Sh500, 000 annually from the venture.

Mushroom production in Kenya accounts for Sh340 millions of which 95 per cent of this comes from large-scale producers across the country such as Agridutt Limited, Rift valley mushrooms, online mushrooms, Devani and Kanchan mushrooms leaving only five per cent for small-scale producers, according to National Farmers Informational Service (NAFIS).

One of the small-scale farmers is a youth from Juja, Kiambu County who is earning Sh30,000 daily from button mushroom farming, a venture he started six years ago after quitting a teaching and electrical job which earned him a small salary of Sh500 per day.

After graduating from the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) then known as Kenya Polytechnic with a Diploma in Electronic Engineering in 2005, John Muchura, 37, got a job with an electrical installation company in Nairobi where he was involved in wiring and electrical appliances installation for the company’s clients in various places.

He started with oyster mushroom because according to him it is easy to multiply compared to button mushrooms which mutate making it difficult to produce consistent results as compared to the parent plants.

“Although oyster mushrooms do not do well in the market as compared to button mushrooms, which are easy to market and sell, I could make my own seeds with oyster mushrooms than the button mushrooms that keep changing their productivity rate if seeds are multiplied,” he said.

From one of his 15×20 metres grass-thatched mud house, he used to harvest 20 punnets which is equivalent to five kilos of oyster mushrooms per day. He sold one punnet at Sh100 translating to about Sh2000 a day. This motivated him.

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Currently, he is harvesting over 20 kilos of button mushrooms per day which he sells at Sh600 per kilo earning him Sh12,000 per day.

In addition to this, Muchura trains over 30 farmers from various areas on button mushroom farming. These farmers also produce between 20 and 50 kilos of mushroom daily which he either buys from them or connects them with willing buyers.

The mushroom industry has a well-established private sector investment with large scale commercial farms like Agridutt Limited, Rift valley mushrooms, online mushrooms, Devani and Kanchan mushrooms. However, key exporting companies do not have out growers.

“I source from my the farmers about 50 kilos, add with my 20 kilos making it 70 kilograms or more depending on the market demand in order to sell. I am targeting more farmers who can work as a team so that we can win supply contracts with supermarkets and exporters. At least this will assure as of a more stable and consistent market for our produce.”

On a good day, he can collect up to 100 kilos of the mushrooms which can earn over Sh60,000 a day. His markets include city park market near Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, open air markets within Kiambu and Nairobi counties and fresh food groceries.

RELATED ARTICLE: Oyster mushroom cultivation

To help him run his five mushroom production houses, he has employed three permanent farm managers whom he has trained. Each of them earn between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000 a month.

You can reach Muchura on +254 737 746619

Victor Kyalo, also a mushroom farmer from Kathioko, Machakos County earns Sh600,000 every season by selling his mushroom directly to the market rather than via middle men who pay less by Sh50 reducing his profit by half.

“Last year when I harvested my mushrooms for the first time a broker in Nairobi promised me a good market only to offer Sh350 per kilo after transporting the produce to him,” said Victor Kyalo.

Kyalo uses water from his 60-foot dug well to keep his mushrooms growing during this dry season. He ferries his produce to Nairobi to look for a bigger market through public transportation at Sh300 per trip.

“This is the second time I am planting this type of mushrooms. I planted five litres of spawns during last year’s November to December short rains and got Sh250, 000 after selling the crops in Nairobi but I have  increased to 10 litres of spawns this time round to double my harvest,” said Kyalo.

He learnt about mushroom farming from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) having paid to Sh10, 000 for a three day training session last year and he has since ventured in oyster mushroom farming having been encouraged by the first harvest.

He is using wheat straws as substrate and sand to grow the mushrooms in his 15×20 metres grass-thatched mud house. Since mushrooms have 80 to 90 per cent water content hence they need humid environment to thrive, sand helps Kyalo to retain water for a long time after sprinkling.

RELATED ARTICLE: There is clean money in mushrooms

“There is many uses of water here and the little water we have especially this dry season must be spent well, that is why I use sand to moderate water lose as it keeps the room wet for a long time thus I have to use less water,” he said.

Victor Kyalo can be reached on +254708486882

Paul Kisi­an­gani while pur­su­ing Mas­ters of Sci­ence in Dis­aster Man­age­ment and Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment in Mas­inde Mu­liro Uni­versity in 2005, star­ted oyster mush­room farm­ing in a 3.5×3.5 metre room which was one of the rooms in his three bed­room house he ren­ted in Amalemba Es­tate in Kaka­mega County.

“I did this to test what the ven­ture could earn me. I was pleased that whatever little pro­duc­tion then could rake me about Sh20,000 per month which I used to sup­port my edu­ca­tion and settle my bills as well,” said Kisi­an­gani.

In 2008, he in­creased the area under mush­room pro­duc­tion from his small room to a half an acre piece of land which he bought at Sh400,000, thanks to the Sh10,000 sup­port he got from his wife and oth­ers from loan ap­plic­a­tion.

“I have so far in­creased the acre­age from a half an acre to an acre which ac­com­mod­ats seven mush­room pro­duc­tion units meas­ur­ing 4×6 metres each and I am able to har­vest 10-20 kilos of the crop daily.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Water hyacinth provides good substrate for mushroom farming

He sells a kilo of fresh mush­room at Sh400 earn­ing him between Sh4,000 and Sh8,000 per day. His mar­kets in­cludes fresh hor­ti­cul­ture crops re­tail shops in El­doret, Kisumu, Nairoi, Kaka­mega and in­di­vidu­als from the sur­round­ing.

Form­a­tion of a Youth Group

Non­ethe­less, while hust­ling for a job upon gradu­ation in 2005, Kasi­an­gani ini­ti­ated the form­a­tion of Galaxy United Youth Group in 2006, the group which has 32 mem­bers cur­rently, all being youth mush­room farm­ers. Kisisngani is the dir­ector of the youth group.

“We de­cided to form this group to up our pro­duc­tion in order to win more tenders by sup­per mar­kets and crop re­tail­ers as we eye ex­port mar­kets,” said Kisi­an­gani.

The group now owns a shop in Kaka­mega Town, the shop which acts as their mush­room col­lec­tion centre and an of­fice where they hold meet­ings among other op­er­a­tions.

Dry mush­room

The group has loc­ally fab­ric­ated solar drier made from tim­ber, green house poly­thene pa­pers and shed nets to form a rack where they dry the mush­rooms be­fore grind­ing the mush­rooms into powder and pack­age them under Galaxy Mush­room brand for mar­kets.

RELATED ARTICLE: Using Agricultural waste to grow mushrooms

“We de­cided to dry and gind into powder the mush­rooms to in­crease their shelf-life and in­crease their value in the mar­ket,” said Kisi­an­gani.

A kilo of dry and powdered mush­room fetches Sh3000 against Sh400 of fresh mush­room. Other than in­creas­ing their mar­ket value, the group has ex­ten­ded their sup­ply to fur­ther mar­kets like Mom­basa, which is more than 860 kilo­metres from West­ern.

Other mar­kets added in the list in­clude Busia, Bungoma and Kitale where the group sup­ply one of the lead­ing products re­tail chain in west­ern re­gion.

Dur­ing dry sea­son the group can pro­duce around 200 kilos of dry mush­room while in rainy sea­son the pro­duc­tion triples to 600 kilos a day total­ing to about 1.5 tonnes a month.

One kilo­gramme of dry mush­room is sold at Sh3,000 while a  sim­ilar fresh amount fetches Sh300. If the 1.5 tonnes are sold after dry­ing, they rake in a gross in­come of Sh3.9 mil­lion while fresh one bring in Sh450,000.

However, after de­duct­ing pro­duc­tion costs which is about Sh1.7m, the group re­mains with Sh4m to di­vide among them­selves de­pend­ing on the con­tri­bu­tion of in­di­vidual group mem­ber.

He can be reached on +254 722 935564




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