Looking to start a mushroom farming business in Kenya? Then look no further than this article.

This growing industry is providing a much-needed source of income for many small-scale farmers in Kenya.

The mushroom farming industry is growing at an exponential rate since more farmers are producing mushrooms to supplement their income.

They make a profit as it is easy to set up a farm and requires minimal investment.

The main cost is the purchase of the mushroom spawn.

In this article, You will learn why mushroom farming is becoming a lucrative industry in Kenya.

You will also learn about the different types of mushrooms that are grown in the country.

Continue reading to learn how small-scale farmers in Kenya are benefiting from this growing industry.

Steps Involved In Starting Mushroom Farming In Kenya

Here’s how you can get started. Follow the following steps: 

1. Choose the right type of mushroom

Make sure to purchase your mushroom from a reliable supplier. Alternatively, collect them from the wild.

But choose the right type of mushroom to grow. Select the right one for your climate and growing conditions.

Read also: Garlic farming in Kenya

2. Prepare a medium for growing the mushroom

The medium or substrate is the material that the mushrooms will grow in.

This substrate can range from wood chips to compost. 

But different types of mushrooms require different types of substrates. 

Thus, it’s important to research the type of mushroom you’re growing and pick the right medium.

The most common medium for growing mushrooms is compost. 

Compost is simply a mixture of organic materials like leaves, grass clippings, and manure. 

Another common medium for growing mushrooms is straw. But the best type of mushroom for this medium is oyster. 

These mediums provide the mushrooms with the nutrients they need to grow and flourish. 

How can mushroom growers prepare the medium for growing mushrooms?

To prepare the medium, simply mix the medium with water and add additional nutrients like calcium carbonate. 

Then pasteurize the medium to destroy any harmful bacteria or fungi.

You can do this by heating the medium to a temperature of 160°F for 2 hours.

3. Plant the mushroom spores or Spawn

Mushroom farmers plant mushrooms by sprinkling the mushroom spawn over the surface of the soil. 

Once you finish sprinkling, cover the spores with a thin layer of soil and mist the area with water. Germination will take place after a few days.

Condition for planting the spores.

Plant the spores in a place that receives plenty of indirect sunlight. Mushrooms need light to grow, but not excessive light.

Water the spores but you will have to make sure that the soil is moist but not wet. Too much water destroys the spores.

The mushroom does well in temperatures ranging from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Higher or lower temperatures make the spores fail to germinate.

You will have to make sure that they are planted in a well-ventilated area. There’s free circulation of air.

4. Provide an ideal environment

What environment is ideal for growing mushrooms?

Mushrooms require a dark, humid, and cool environment as they need to grow. So an enclosed space is ideal for growing mushrooms.

5. Monitor the growth of the plants

What should Kenya mushroom growers monitor? 

Well,  here are some tips to help mushroom growers monitor the growth of their mushrooms.

1. Check the temperature. Monitor regularly to ensure that the temperature is always between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Monitor the humidity. The best humidity level should be between 70 to 80%. It should not be higher or lower.

3. Check the soil. Too much water will make the mushrooms rot. So monitor to make sure that the soil is moist but not wet.

4. Look for signs of diseases. If you notice any signs of disease, take action immediately soon as possible.

6. Harvest the mushrooms

Generally, mushrooms take between 2 to 4 weeks to mature. However, the length may differ depending on the variety.

Before you harvest your mushroom, check to make sure that the mushrooms are not contaminated. 

If there are signs of contamination, then avoid harvesting the mushrooms as they may be unsafe for human consumption.

However, if there are no signs of contamination, you go ahead and harvest your mushrooms.

When you start harvesting your mushrooms, make sure to use a knife to cut the mushrooms from the ground. 

It’s not advisable to pull the mushroom as pulling it off can damage the mushroom and the surrounding area.

But using a knife ensures that the mushrooms are not damaged and that they are harvested in the best condition.

This leaves some of the mushrooms behind so that they can continue to grow and reproduce.

How can Kenyan mushroom farmers tell that the mushrooms are ready for harvesting?

The caps of a fully-grown mushroom are usually open. When the caps are open, the mushroom should be harvested immediately.

However, if the mushroom caps are still closed, then the mushroom is not yet ready for harvesting.

Common Types Of Mushrooms Grown In Kenya

Mushrooms are a type of fungi. There are several types of mushrooms and each type requires unique farming techniques.

But I’ll cover only the five most common types of mushrooms found in the Kenyan mushroom industry.

Button mushrooms

Button mushrooms - Mushroom farming in Kenya

Button mushrooms usually have a white cap and a short, thick stem. They can be bought in grocery stores in their immature form.

After planting, they should be kept in a dark, humid environment with temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit until they reach maturity..

They typically take about 2 weeks to reach maturity. The caps become darker as they mature. The flavor also becomes more intense. 

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms

These mushrooms need a dark and humid environment. The temperature range from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit

While the humidity ranges from 70 to 80 percent. Make sure that there’s free circulation of air.

For healthy growth, your mushrooms need a substrate, the substrate should be a combination of sawdust and straw. 

This substrate provides the mushrooms with the nutrients they need for growth. The substrate is supposed to be moist but not too wet.

Then farmers need to inoculate the substrate with the Shiitake mushroom spores. 

Farmers can do this by mixing the spores with the substrate and then placing it in a plastic bag. 

The grower will need to make sure that the bag is sealed and placed in a warm, dark place for a reasonable of weeks.

Shiitake mushrooms reach maturity when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. 

Farmers should harvest the mushrooms by carefully cutting the mushrooms off the substrate.

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms - Mushroom farming in Kenya

Oyster mushrooms have fan-shaped caps and a white to grayish color. They have a variety of vitamins and minerals.

These types of mushrooms can be grown in different environments. For example, they can be grown both indoors and outdoors.

Firstly, the farmer needs to purchase mushroom spores from trustworthy mushroom suppliers. 

A spore is a type of seed that contains the mycelium of the mushroom. 

Farmers also need a straw, sawdust, or wood chips as a substrate to provide the mushrooms with a place to grow.

Then prepare a growing area for garlic. Mix the spawn and the substrate together and then pack it into a container. 

The container should be kept in a warm, dark place with plenty of air circulation.

These types of mushrooms reach maturity in 2 to 3 weeks. When they reach 2 weeks, they can be harvested. 

Chinese mushrooms

Chinese mushrooms

Chinese mushrooms are typically white in color and have a firm texture. They are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

Chinese mushrooms grow well in a humid environment with temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

They need plenty of light and soil that is rich in organic matter. 

When they start growing,  check for signs of disease and pests. Make sure that the mushrooms are receiving enough water and nutrients. 

They take about 2 to 4 weeks to mature. 

Conditions Needed For Mushroom Farming In Kenya

For mushrooms to grow properly, there are certain conditions that must be met. 

Here are the conditions:

Environment

Mushrooms require a moist environment to grow very well. The soil must always be damp, but not very wet. 

Excessive water makes the mushrooms rot. 

The best temperature for mushroom growth should be between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The farmer must make sure that the mushrooms are placed in a damp, dark, and cool environment. 

Food

Organic matter is needed in mushroom cultivation. This organic matter can take different forms like wood chips, straw, or compost. 

However, you can use other food sources as long as the food source is rich in nitrogen and other nutrients. 

Oxygen

If you have a problem with the free circulation of air, then you can use a fan to provide free circulation of air. 

But a farmer must ensure that the temperature is constant.

Light

Provide light to your mushrooms. This can be done by exposing them to sunlight or using artificial light.

But the farmer must keep the light at a low intensity because high-intensity light can cause the mushrooms to dry out. 

How To Grow Mushrooms In a Bag

The beauty of mushrooms is that they can be grown in bags. 

This is a simple and cost-effective way of growing mushrooms in Kenya.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Look for requirements. The requirements are a bag of mushroom spawn, a bag of pasteurized compost, and a spray bottle.

2. Make compost. Fill the bag with compost and spray it with water so that it gets damp but it should not be wet.

3. Sprinkle spawn. Sprinkle spawn over the compost and gently mix it in with your hands.

4. Seal the bag. After mixing the spawn, seal the bag with a twist tie.

5. Leave the bag in a warm, dark place. The best temperature is typically between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Observe the bag. Observe the bag oftentimes to ensure that the bag has the right amount of water. 

7. Harvest the mushrooms. There’s a right way for farmers to harvest the mushroom in Kenya. 

When the mushrooms are ready for harvesting, simply cut them off at the base.

This way you will not destroy the mushroom.

Mushroom Farming Business In Kenya: Different Mushroom Products

Mushrooms can be used in a variety of dishes such as soups,  salads, or stir-fries.

They add a special flavor to any meal.

By the way, did you know that there are a variety of mushroom products available on the market? 

Here are some of the different mushroom products that are available:

  • Mushroom gravy.
  • Fresh mushrooms.
  • Mushroom extract.
  • Dried mushrooms.
  • Mushroom sauce.
  • Canned mushrooms.
  • Mushroom powder

Is Mushroom Farming Business Profitable In Kenya?

The demand for mushrooms in Kenya is growing because of their health benefits and their use in cooking. 

If you have the right knowledge and do it on a large scale, the mushroom Industry can be a lucrative business in Kenya.

The mushroom farming industry is a highly profitable business venture in Kenya. 

The cost of production is relatively low since the main inputs are the mushroom spawn and the substrate. 

The cost of production in terms of labor is also low since the labor required is minimal. 

In addition, the cost of marketing is also low.  Mushrooms can be sold directly to consumers or on local markets.

Common Mushroom Diseases

Here are four of the most common mushroom diseases and how to identify and treat them:

1. Brown spot

Brown spot on mushroom - Mushroom farming in Kenya

Brown spot is a fungal disease.  It is caused by a fungus known as Alternaria alternata and affects the caps of mushrooms. 

This fungus spreads quickly in warm, humid conditions, and it is spread by wind, rain, or even by contact with infected mushrooms. 

Signs

  • Dark brown spots on the mushroom caps.
  • Discoloration of the mushroom caps.
  • Weak and brittle stems. 

Treatment

  • Get rid of infected mushrooms.
  • Use fungicides to control the spread of the fungus. 

2. White rot

White rot on mushroom

White rot is a fungal disease. It is caused by a fungus called Sclerotium cepivorum. This fungus is found in soil and decaying organic matter.

It affects the stems of mushrooms. The fungus produces a white, cottony growth on the mushroom’s surface.

The fungus slowly eats away at the mushroom’s flesh, leaving it soft and discolored.

The main cause of white rot is poor soil drainage and high humidity. This fungus survives in wet, humid conditions. 

Signs

  • White, stringy strands on the stem.
  • Discolored mushroom cap and stem.

Treatment

  • Get rid of any infected mushrooms from the area.
  • Spread a fungicide on the crops.

3. Slime mold

Slime mold on mushroom

Slime mold is a fungal disease. It affects the gills of mushrooms. The fungus is highly contagious.

The main cause of slime mold is excessive moisture in the soil. This is a result of poor drainage or over-watering.

Signs

  • Slimy, grayish-green coating on the surface of the mushroom. 
  • Discoloring of mushroom.
  • Brittle mushroom that breaks easily.

Treatment

  • Get rid of the affected mushrooms from the rest of the mushrooms. 
  • Spread a fungicide on the affected mushrooms.

4. Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew on mushroom - Mushroom farming in Kenya

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease. It affects the caps of mushrooms. 

White, powdery patches spread across the entire cap. It can lead to stunted growth.

Powdery mildew is caused by high humidity, poor air circulation, and warm temperatures.

Signs

  • White, powdery coating on the surface of the mushroom.
  • Stunted growth.

Treatment

  • Get rid of infected mushrooms.
  • Improve air circulation.
  • Use fungicides. 

Final Thoughts On Mushroom Farming In Kenya

The mushroom farming industry is a lucrative business venture in Kenya. 

Mushrooms are in high demand in Kenya because of their nutritional value.

If you are interested in starting a mushroom farming business in Kenya, follow these 6 easy steps:

1. Choose a type of mushroom suitable for your climate.

2. Prepare a medium for growing the mushroom.

3. Sprinkle the mushroom spawn on the medium. 

4. Provide a cool, dry, dark environment.

5. Monitor the growth of the plants.

6. Harvest the mushrooms.

If you are looking to buy mushroom spawn, farmers should buy them from reputable suppliers.

Alternatively, mushroom growers can collect the spawn from the wild. But a farmer needs to ensure that the mushroom is edible.

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