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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 806: International Symposium on Underutilized Plants for Food Security, Nutrition, Income and Sustainable Development

CULTIVATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION OF EDIBLE MUSHROOMS IN KENYA: A REVIEW OF PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES FOR SMALLHOLDER PRODUCTION

Authors:   M.W. Gateri, A.W. Muriuki, M.W. Waiganjo, P. Ngeli
Keywords:   button mushrooms, marketing constraints, oyster mushrooms, value chain
Abstract:
Edible mushroom cultivation has found a niche among small scale farmers in Kenya. Previously they were picked from the wild, but now, many farmers are growing mushrooms for their nutritive value as well as for industrial and medicinal purposes. Two main types of mushrooms are being commercialized, the button (Agaricus bisporus) and oyster (Pleurotus species). Button mushrooms account for 95% (476 t) of the 500 t produced annually. Oyster mushroom, introduced in 2003, is the most popular among small-scale farmers, mainly because it can fruit over a wide range of temperatures. It offers lucrative business, requires no arable land for production, and provides diversification with benefits such as increased income, employment, and food and nutrition security. Furthermore, the abundant agricultural waste found countrywide offers opportunity for production, which in turn provides a more economical and environmentally friendly disposal system. The potential for mushroom production in Kenya is high. Demand outstrips supply as Kenya imports 150 t annually not to mention the feasible export market. Constraints to production as revealed in a 2007 consultative stakeholders’ workshop include high input costs, lack of quality spawn, diseases and pests, lack of proper skills in production and postharvest handling, and a lean government extension service. Moreover, a Farm Concern International countrywide market survey revealed that high product price, an undiversified product range, low utilization, poor infrastructure, unsustainable supplies, lack and inaccessibility of market information, lack of entrepreneurship skills among farmers, and poor polices and coordination among value chain players further constrained the mushroom market. This scenario calls for the joint participation of players in production, extension, research, policy, and marketing in order to optimize the mushroom value chain. The paper reviews the status of mushroom marketing in Kenya and explores the prospects available for enhancing commercialization and optimization of the mushroom value chain.
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