Is mushroom farming in Kenya profitable?


The answer, of course, is yes. But the question is not so simple and straightforward as it might seem at first glance.

Here’s what you need to know about mushroom farming in Kenya.

  • They are high in demand in the culinary industry and you’ll find them often served at upscale restaurants. They are often sold in grocery stores as well.
  • Mushroom farms are easy to set up .You can start this type of farming by building a hut or constructing a makeshift mesh structure.
  • Its farming is an inexpensive venture, which makes it one of the best options for people who have limited funds or want to start their own business without spending too much cash upfront right away.
  • They are relatively simple plants .They don’t need to be irrigated and can be grown in any part of Kenya.

Types of mushrooms grown in Kenya

Mushrooms are the edible fresh part of fungi that may be grown in the wild or under cultivation. Below are the different types of varieties;

White button

They are one of the most common and popular types grown in Kenya.

They grow on a shelf-like structure called a substrate which is made up of sawdust or straw, and then inoculated with spawn.

They’re very easy to grow at home because of their few growth requirements but can easily be killed when exposed to too much light.

Oyster

Oysters are grown indoors under controlled conditions with low levels of light coming through at various intervals.These are generally found at upscale restaurants and they taste a bit like an oyster because of their texture.

Maitake

Maitake has been documented to have cancer prevention properties among other health benefits as well. It’s also high in vitamin D.

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Chanterelle

Chanterelle is popular and edible. It is very versatile as it can be cooked in many different ways.

Porcini

Porcini is found mostly all over the world.They are often used for their flavor as well as texture when cooked. They have a strong earthy taste which is why they’re more common in Italian cooking .

How to start a mushroom farm in Kenya

Mushrooms are planted in substrates which is a growing medium for its production.

Substrate is prepared from wheat straw or saw dust which is then added urea, calcium ammonium nitrate, mono-phosphate, lime and effective microorganisms to increase the mushrooms nutritive value.

Below are the steps of establishing a mushroom farm in Kenya;

  1. Prepare the substrate for a period of 14 days to allow for decomposition. Decomposition allows the crop to spread its roots to absorb nutrients as they grow.
  2. Keep turning the substrate regularly to aerate and oxygenate so that all its ingredients decompose uniformly.
  3. Once the substrate is ready, package it in industrial plastic bags in order to conserve moisture  and keep it from drying out.
  4. Spread the spawn evenly in the substrate.
  5. Store them in racks in a shelter that is built from either mud, stone , brick or iron sheets to ensure that the temperature stays regulated to  between 17 degrees and 20 degrees Celsius.
  6. Ensure the light is minimal as the crop grows well in the dark.
  7. They take 40-50 days to mature.

Challenges of mushroom farming in Kenya

It can be a risky business if one does not know what they are doing. There are many challenges that come with its farming which need to be taken into account before venturing into this venture as it can prove costly and ultimately fail.Some of this challenges are;

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Low yield

Production in Kenya can be as little as a kilogram per hectare. This means it can take many years for a farmer to recoup their investments.

It also needs an initial investment which may not be within the reach of most people.

High cost of production

This is a result of both the high initial investment and low yield, which means that in order to be profitable, one needs to produce at least two metric tons per hectare annually as opposed to Kenya’s average annual output of about 400 kilos per acre.

Furthermore, the profits are not guaranteed unless you have all the necessary equipment and the knowledge on how to manage such a farm.

Poor market demand

Another challenge is that Kenya’s markets for this crop are not well developed, which means there may be limited demand leading to low prices even if you do have a large production capacity.

Harsh environmental factors

Environmental factors such as pests and disease can wipe out your entire crop at one go, with no chance of recovery.

Where to buy mushroom spawns in Kenya

There are only a few places where you can get spawns in Kenya. Some of the outlets you can purchase them from are;

JKUATES- Jomo Kenyatta University of agriculture and technology Enterprises.

This is a state corporation that is in charge of research, development and training of various farming concepts. You can purchase health certified spawns from them .

If you are new in mushroom farming or want to improve your skills, you can enroll online for their training at a subsidized fee.

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KARI-Kenya Agricultural Research Institute

This is a government institution that does research on crops to ensure food security in Kenya. You can contact them through their website to purchase spawns.

Market for mushrooms in Kenya

  • Fresh produce markets like Marikiti or Gikomba markets.
  • Grocery outlets such as Zucchini.
  • Supermarkets in major towns such as Naivas and carrefour.
  • High end restaurants and Hotels.

Cost of mushroom farming in Kenya

Below is a table that shows the breakdown of costs;

CostsAmount
Spawn (15 litre)10,000
Cost of inputs5,000
Labour costs3,000
Production costs4,200
Straw per bale  600 *31,800
Total24,000

Revenue and profits of mushroom farming in Kenya

The average price of mushrooms in Kenya is roughly between 500-1000 shillings per kilo.

Revenue (per kg of mushrooms) * Sales Volume = Gross Revenue.

Let’s say, for example, the price of a kilo is Ksh 800 and you sell 100kg per month at that rate, this will net you about Ksh 80,000 in gross revenue monthly.

The average revenue generated by mushroom farming in Kenya is Ksh 76,000 per annum with an annual cost of Ksh 24,000 (excluding land and capital).

The minimum profit margin from this farm business ranges between 27% to 37%. This means that for every shilling invested there will be a return of investment of 3 shillings.

Conclusion

From the calculations above ,you can see that mushroom farming is profitable in Kenya and the profits can be high.

However be cognizant of the fact that ,factors such as farm size, variety grown and how much capital investment one has to invest can affect the profitability.

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