Mushrooms Lure Young Man away from the City

Bernardine Mutanu reports an interesting story in Business Daily.

Mr Muchiri inside a mushroom room at his Riamukurwe Village farm in Nyeri County.  One kilogramme of button mushroom is sold at between Sh500 and Sh900 , while the oyster  variety  costs between Sh300 and Sh500 per kilogramme. JOSEPH KANYI

It tells how John Collins Muchiri, 28, left Nairobi to pursue farming at his rural Riamukurwe Wambugu farm in Nyeri, rather than stay in the city. John Muchiri left to grow mushrooms and has never looked back since.

“I have a passion for farming. I left my job as a sales person to do full time farming,” he said during an interview at his home. He received Sh25,000 from his brother and used Sh15,000 of it to pay for a mushroom growing course and Sh10,000 to buy substrate, on which to grow the mushrooms.

He raised more money to study how to make substrate. “I raised Sh75,000 from selling goats and went for another training. It was hard at first because there was no one to guide me on getting raw materials, equipment, and market,” he said.

After acquiring the necessary materials, John Muchiri built a darkroom for growing mushrooms. John Muchiri has since increased the number of darkrooms to five, following a rise in demand for his mushrooms. One darkroom costs between Sh20,000 and Sh30,000 to build, depending on the construction materials used and the size of the structure. A darkroom consists of wooden sections, on which the substrate is placed to allow the mushrooms to grow, walls are covered with polythene papers. A thermometer is placed in each room to monitor the temperature closely.

Medicinal value

With 30 regular clients, he makes at least Sh3.6 million per year through selling the substrate alone. “I get contracts from farmers to make substrate. Making one tonne of the substance costs Sh55,000 and I can make as much as five tonnes for one farmer,” he said. He grows three types of mushrooms: button (Agaricus), oyster (Pleurotus), and shiitake . One kilogramme of button is sold at between Sh500 and Sh900, while oyster costs between Sh300 and Sh500 per kilogramme. He incubates shiitake only on order as it is prized for its medicinal value. Mr Muchiri said he makes between Sh15,000 and Sh20, 000 per day during harvest time. “I want to increase the volume of substrate so that I can supply at least 200 kg of mushrooms per day,” he said. He supplies mushrooms to hotels in Nyeri, Nanyuki, Nairobi, and Mombasa as he looks forward to exporting the produce.
John Muchiri also teaches farmers how to grow mushrooms.
John Muchiri said that patience is the key to the success of any business. He attributed his success to support from his pastor and hotels.

Bernardine Mutanu  can be found writing on many topics at Nation Media.

Soil Scientist – Post-Doctoral Fellow (ICRAF)

Post-doctoral fellow – soil scientist

If you can contribute to ICRAF’s research on soil spectral methods, especially to further develop experimental and data analytical and interpretation methods that lead to new products, that provide actionable knowledge and evidenced-based policy for sustainable soil management, then you are the person we are looking for. For over a decade ICRAF has being working on soil infrared spectral methods for rapid prediction of soil functional properties. These methods are now being widely applied in land health surveillance schemes that employ a standardized protocol for landscape level measurement and mapping of soil conditions. The framework is being applied throughout sub-Saharan Africa under the Africa Soil Information Service (www.africasoils.net) as well as in an increasing number of land management projects. ICRAF has recently extended these techniques to include laser and x-ray methods under its new Soil-Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory, and is supporting a network of infrared spectroscopy labs across Africa.

Closing date is 30th April 2012 and more information can be obtained from: the World Agroforestry Centre. Applications for the position of Landscape Ecologist also close on 30th April.