How To Start A Lucrative Mushroom Farming Business In Nigeria (The Complete Guide)
Mushrooms, a member of the fungus family; rich in protein, Vitamin B, and minerals, are edible cash crops with a large global demand. Their cultivation, which is not just fuelled by their various uses in staple meals, is also largely motivated by their wide medicinal uses, and as such, are cultivated and sold commercially in over 60 countries including Nigeria, The United States, France, Poland, Netherlands, and a host of other countries.
The biological makeup and fast growth rate (usually 3 weeks) of edible mushrooms, also scientifically known as Agrodok, makes them a choice crop for a small sect of farmers with a wide supply chain network. They can also be cultivated domestically or picked in the wild, with some growing above the ground and others growing below the ground.
If you’re looking to venture into a less crowded branch of agriculture with high prospects for exportation, edible mushroom farming is a great bet to get into.
What Is Mushroom Farming About?
Mushroom farming is the cultivation and commercial sale of edible mushrooms for food and medicinal purposes; either on decaying organic matter like tree trunks or on soils through the six farming steps namely: making the mushroom compost, finishing the compost, spawning, casing, pinning, and cropping. Their cultivation makes it possible for commercialisation and other benefits their nutritional and medicinal value adds.
Business Opportunities In Mushroom Farming Around The World
1). A Source Of Food:
Mushrooms are used as a source of food in many parts of the word, because they’re rich in protein (6%), dietary fibre (4%), low carbohydrates (1%), low calories (1%), riboflavin (24%), niacin (10%), pantothenic acid (15%), Vitamin D (5%), Copper (16%), Selenium (13%), Phosphorus (9%), and Potassium (9%).
Mushroom farmers growing the crop as a source of food can hone in on the international demand potential of this product and export them to countries like Zimbabwe, Tanzania, The United States, Netherlands, Poland, France, and several other countries.
2). Medicinal Purposes:
Mushrooms are consumed worldwide, because of their health benefits. Some of their medicinal advantages includes protecting diabetic patients from infections, lowers cholesterol levels, prevents breast and prostate cancer, improves bone health, boosts the immune system, reduces blood pressure, stimulates the absorption of iron, aids in weight loss, amongst several others.
Their use creates opportunities in the health care industry, thereby building an income stream for mushroom farmers through the constant supply of mushrooms to drug manufacturers and people who need the mushrooms directly.
Benefits Of Mushroom Farming
1). No barrier to production.
2). Source of income and employment.
3). Sustainable global demand.
4). Cheaper to grow than many other crops.
5). They can grow in a small space.
6).They grow very fast (usually 3 weeks).
7). They sell at great prices per square foot.
Facts About Mushrooms
1). Not all mushrooms can be consumed. Some are edible while others are poisonous.
2). They grow under sheds protected from the wind and sun.
3). They grow in moist and damp places.
4). They need Oxygen to grow.
The Suitable Species For Mushroom Farming
1). Oyster Mushrooms:
- They are also known as the Pleurotus ostreatus.
- Was first cultivated in Germany.
- Is grown for food.
- Is one of the most sort-after mushrooms worldwide.
- Can be cultivated on straw, sugar cane, and other media.
- It has the bittersweet aroma of benzaldehyde.
- has a broad, fan or oyster-shaped cap spanning 5–25 cm.
- It ranges from white to gray and also tan to dark-brown.
- Can be found in temperate and subtropical forests throughout the world.
- It is a carnivorous mushroom.
- They can grow in many places especially dying hardwood trees.
2). Shiitake Mushrooms:
- Is scientifically known as Agaricus edodes.
- It belongs to the genus Lentinula.
- Is also commonly called “sawtooth oak mushroom”, “black forest mushroom”, “black mushroom”, “golden oak mushroom”, or “oakwood mushroom”.
- Grown for food and medicinal purposes.
- Largely located in East Asia.
- Grows in groups on decaying trees.
- Its natural habitat includes warm and moist climates in southeast Asia.
- They contribute to about 25% of the total yearly production of mushrooms.
3). Morel Mushrooms:
- They are also called True Morels.
- They have a honeycomb appearance because of the network of ridges with pits composing their cap.
- They are highly prized by gourmet cooks.
- They’re a multi-million dollar industry spanning through North America, Turkey, China, India, and Pakistan.
- They are also known as magic mushrooms and shrooms.
- They are mostly used as a recreational drug.
- They are dark-spored gilled mushrooms that grow in meadows and woods of the subtropics and tropics, usually in soils rich in humus and plant debris.
- They grow in all continents but are majorly seen in subtropical humid forests.
A host of other mushroom types include:
Species that should be grown on wooden logs or sawdust:
- Laetiporus sulphureus
- Hericium erinaceus
- Pholiota nameko
Other species that should be grown on manure, compost, straw, or combination of any of these:
- Agaricus campestris
- Macrolepiota procera
- Coprinus comatus
- Lentinus edodes
- Agaricus bisporus
- Lepista nuda
- Stropharia rugoso-annulata
Setting Up Your Mushroom Farm
Step 1: Making Mushroom Compost
This phase occurs in an enclosed structure with a roof-top. A wharf, also referred to as a concrete slab, is important for this compost step along with a compost turner, which is used to water and aerate the ingredients, and a tractor-loader, which is used to move the ingredients to the turner.
If you don’t have a mechanized equipment for this phase, you can turn the piles by hand using pitchforks. You then start by wetting and mixing the ingredients while they’re stacked in a rectangular pile and have a loose centre and tight sides.
This phase 1 process would last from 7 to 14 days, which could vary based on the nature of the material used at the beginning and its characteristics at every turn. The composting process is then mostly accompanied with an ammonia odour, which follows with a mouldy and sweet smell.
While there are several more steps to go in this initial phase, when the required colour, temperature, odour, and the moisture is achieved, the process of making the mushroom compost is complete.
Step 2: Finishing The Compost
This phase is largely carried out for two primary purposes. The first is to kill pest fungi, insects, nematodes, and other pests that may be living in the compost through a process called pasteurisation. The second purpose is to eliminate all forms of ammonia generated during the phase 1 process of making the mushroom compost.
It is critical that the ammonia be removed because if its remains. At the end of the phase 2 process of finishing the compost, its concentration would be higher than 0.07% and can be lethal to the mushroom’s growth in the spawning process.
The phase 2’s end is usually accompanied with a lowering of the compost temperature to 75 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit before the spawning process can begin.
Stage 3: Spawning
In this phase, the mushroom compost is introduced with mushroom spawn for the mushroom to grow. Just as certain plants like tomatoes are the fruits of a tomato plant, mushrooms themselves are equally the fruit of a plant. Inside every tomato, we’d find seeds which are used to grow the next set of the tomatoes. In the mushrooms too, we’d find some microscopic spores inside the mushroom cap. But due to the nature of their tiny size, they cannot be handled like regular seeds.
The spawning process can begin by sterilizing a mixture of chalk, water, millets, wheat, and other tiny grains which could substitute perfectly for rye grain.
After the compost and the spawn have been mixed together, whether by hand or by a bed system, the compost temperature should be settled around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The spawn process would run for 14 to 21 days, and the moment the compost has fully grown with the spawn, the next phase is then carried out.
Stage 4: Casing
At this phase, the casing, which is a form of dressing, is applied to the top of the spawn compost, which the mushrooms eventually form on. Here, a mixture of ground limestone with peat moss or clay-loam field soil can be used as the casing on the compost.
To manage the crop after casing, it needs to be kept at 75 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 days with a high relative humidity. After this, the temperature of the compost should be reduced to 2 degrees Fahrenheit everyday until tiny mushroom pins have been formed.
Phase 5: Pinning
The pinning phase occurs when the mushroom initials form after the rhizomorphs have developed in the casing. Once the initials grows to about four times its size, it becomes a pin. During the button stage, the pins continue to increase and expand till the button eventually becomes a mushroom.
The mushrooms can now be harvested between 18 to 21 days after the casing.
Phase 6: Cropping
In the cropping cycle, the bloom, which is the 3 to 5 days repetitive harvesting period, is carried out with breaks on days when there are no mushrooms to harvest. This cycle continues in an endless spiral until there are absolutely no mushrooms to harvest anymore. The average time most farmers spend harvesting the mushrooms is usually 35 to 42 days. Although some farmers spend as much as 60 days, on rare occasions, few farmers may continue harvesting for up to 140 days.
When the final mushrooms have been harvested, the room used to groom the mushrooms would then be closed off and pasteurised with steam. This process is important, because it ensures that no pests are left alive on the crops or the woods in the mushroom grooming room. Thereby, reducing the chances of an infestation on the next round.
The cropping process brings to an end the 15 weeks mushroom production cycle, which ranges from creating the mushroom compost to the final steaming stage after the mushroom harvest is complete.
At this point, the average weights of the mushrooms would be about 0 to 4 lbs per square foot. For a healthier larger yield, the grower must be carefully monitored, with the temperature, humidity, and pests highly controlled.
Challenges Of Mushroom Farming
1). Lack of production skills.
2). Lack of trained research personnel.
3). Poor Market Network.
4). Poor availability of affordable public spawn for farmers to purchase.
Growing mushrooms is a great agribusiness for anyone looking towards agricultural products with a huge exportation potential. With a vast international and subtle local demand, mushroom farming can be a great agribusiness to venture into.
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