Mushroom farming for food security in Zimbabwe.There are many types of mushrooms grow across the globe. My focus in this article is oyster Mushroom due to its quick turn around, easier to grow and can be grown anywhere in Zimbabwe.

The country is facing the challenge of food security as drought is now an annual phenomena. Though other parts may receive normal rainfall many parts experience perennial droughts. More and more people are turning to mushrooms, the best part is that people in farms and rural areas are now moving into mushrooms, our dream is to see mushrooms being grown across the country for reasons stated below.

Mushrooms can still be grown after a drought. This is so because after drought there is plenty of agricultural waste that remain. Mushroom farming will be affected to lesser a extend as compared to other crops. It is affected by availability of water however the water required for mushroom farming is no much as that required by field crops, further mushroom growing is done indoors where the rate of evaporisation is suppressed.

Fast growing mushrooms can be harvested 25-30 days from “planting date. There is no crop with such capability. Making mushrooms important in fighting hunger.

Use of waste materials
Mushrooms are grown on agricultural or industrial waste, this contributes to low production cost. Producing food from waste is so sustainable it also reduces carbon emitted into the atmosphere as agricultural waste that is usually burnt is put to good use by producing food, the waste is used as a soil conditioner which goes a long way in reducing erosion and high productivity with conventional farming.

Grown all year round
It be grow all year round, further most crops cannot  be grown in winter except in green houses which are very expensive. The majority of Zimbabweans can’t afford green houses. Mushroom houses can be built using locally available materials like pole and thatch houses.

Employment creation
Mushroom farming like most agricultural practices is labor intensive and a such it creates a lot of employment.

No need for electricity
We are aggressively promoting oyster mushrooms which can be grown even where there is no electricity.

Simple technology
Mushroom growing uses simple technology that can be understood by everyone, however let me hasten to say knowledge is critical, get training before growing.

No arable land required

Mushroom does not require arable land as it is grown on prepared growing media which is not soil, so! Mushrooms can be grown anywhere, further Mushrooms can be grown on small pieces of land, those in urban areas use their backyards. The best advantage is it uses vertical farming concepts thus minimising area used.

Most people who stay in rural areas depend on agriculture and its important to look into other areas especially as the country face many challenges for alternative food supply

Source of Manure
After growing mushrooms the waste can be used as a soil conditioner or mixed to compost. So mushroom relies on other plants and after harvesting the plants relies on Mushroom. This is the way it is in the forests, it goes on and on. Very sustainable.

One can grow mushrooms on a full time basis or seasonally. Some grow conventional crops in summer and then venture into mushrooms off season to boost income, others supplement their incomes growing mushrooms on top of the conventional crops they grow.

Nyasha Mupaso founder of Mushtella Specialty Mushrooms has a passion for mushrooms. His work stretches from mushroon spawn production to mushroom cultivation and ethnomycology and training.

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