FAO unveils Ksh100m program to support mushroom farmers

Written By: Regina Manyara
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The Food and Agricultural Organization has rolled out a 100 million shillings program in Taita Taveta County aimed at supporting mushroom farming.

Mushrooms require minimal water and supervision thus favorable for dry weather conditions often experienced in arid and semi-arid regions.

These women in Taita Taveta County are seen as pioneers among their peers having ventured into mushroom farming unlike their counterparts who are still apprehensive of the relatively new crop in the area.

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The program targets arid and semi-arid regions due to their harsh climatic conditions.

Mariann says she prefers growing mushrooms for they do not need any soil or a lot of water unlike maize, millet and sorghum.

The women make use of agricultural waste such as maize and bean stalks, straw and maize corn cobs that they collect after harvest.

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There are two types of mushrooms namely oyster and button.

Oyster mushrooms are especially productive, and can produce up to 25 pounds per square foot of growing area every year.

They take about four weeks from incubation to harvest.

These women are expected to produce 940 kilos per week with a kilo of the mushroom going for between 400 and 600 shillings.

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Although mushrooms are relatively easy to grow, they also require technical know-how to avoid challenges such as low production and contamination.

Stakeholders are optimistic that though alien, mushroom farming will provide an option to diversify and earn additional income to farmers in Taita Taveta County.

For Mariann and her fellow women, mushroom farming has provided a sustainable way of life.

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