By Chinyere Ogbonna: As Nigeria diversifies its economy from an oil dependent economy to make Agriculture its mainstay, many are beginning to think outside the box. This implies that agriculture will no longer be treated as a way to make something by the side but a real business. A lot of Nigerians including the young ones have keyed into the sector to earn a living and also earn foreign exchange. Many are in the farm while many others are in other aspects of the agro value chain, including processing to add value to the local produce for local consumption as well as the export market. One of the sub sectors of the agro value chain is the Mushrooms farming. Although this type of farming was not popular amongst Nigerians, Mushroom farming is one of the farming business that holds high prospect but has never gained grounds in Nigeria. However, it is beginning to gain grounds as some Nigerians have already embraced it, while many are considering venturing into it.
The story of Mushrooms Farming in Nigeria will be incomplete without the mention of the founder Mushrooms Foundation Nigeria, MDF-N, a subsidiary of ChiTola Farms located in Shagamu, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, ChiTola who has been creating the needed awareness using her Mushrooms Development Foundation Nigeria- MDF-N to mentor many who have identified with the course and have even gone as far as forming a cooperative society to assist its members. Mushrooms can be grown in one’s garden for private consumption or for commercial purpose. Whichever reason, one decides to go, whether you choose to grow your mushrooms in your garden for private consumption or in a big farm for commercial purpose, it is important that you know some important steps to take when growing mushroom. A few people that are already into mushroom farming are making serious money and the process of starting mushroom farm is quite simple. Another good thing about mushroom farming is that it is not capital intensive.
A Mushrooms farmer, Chi Tola says Mushrooms farming is lucrative if taken up in commercial quantity.
The process of starting mushroom farm is quite simple. Another good thing about mushroom farming is that it is not capital intensive. And the demand for edible mushrooms is growing in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world. Mushroom is a kind of fungi that grows on the soil or on the body of its food, usually decaying tree trunks. It is the fleshy part of the fruiting body of a fungus. Aside from the delicious taste of edible mushrooms, it also has numerous health benefits. The button mushroom can help in reducing weight, shiitakes are known to fight tumours. The chanterelle contains a reasonable amount of vitamins. While the oyster is currently being studied as a possible cure to HIV. All these are the health benefits of mushrooms and many more.
It must be grown where there is shade to protect it from wind and sun. It also needs oxygen for survival. However, it is important to note here that not all mushrooms are good for consumption. Some species of mushrooms are toxic, some are poisonous, while some are edible. After you have chosen the species you want to grow, you can then go ahead to purchase its spawn. The spawn of the particular variety of mushroom you wish to grow is the material that carries the mycelium of the strain of the mushroom pending when it will be cultivated. It could be sawdust, grain or any substance that can hold the strain of mushroom until it is ready to be cultivated.
Medium to grow mushroom:
There are two mediums that you can use in growing your mushroom. You can grow your mushroom on sawdust or straw, or you can cultivate it on a log wood. If you are growing your mushrooms on saw dust, you must do the following:
- Ensure that the sawdust or straw is free from micro-organisms or anything that may disturb the growth of the mushrooms.
- Spread your medium into a container that can provide enough room for proper growth of the mushrooms.
- Mix the mushroom spawn with the medium inside the container.
- The mushroom spawn needs a certain amount of heat to enable its roots settle in the medium. Therefore, you must heat the container with the mushroom spawn and the medium or place it in direct sunlight for a while.
- After heating the medium and the spawn, the next thing to do is to put the mixture in a dark room. It could be a cabinet or drawer, but it must be a darkened environment where the temperature is not too high.
- When you have done all that you need to do. You must leave the mixture in the drawer or cabinet for about three to four weeks for it to grow. Meanwhile, cover the mixture with soil and continue to spray with water to keep it damp even as the mushrooms grow.
In the case of logs, you must make sure the woods are safe for the growth of your mushrooms. Cut holes into the woods and then introduce the mushroom spawn into the holes in the log woods. Put the logs under a shade, with continuous spraying of water until the mushrooms start to develop.
Whatever medium you decide to use in cultivating your mushrooms, you must make sure you put all the measures mentioned in place and you can be sure that you can have a bountiful harvest of mushrooms at the end of the day.