Briefly introduce yourself.
My name is Derrick Kidiavai and I am aged 25 years. I am a professional chef and I do mushroom farming as a side hustle. My farm is called Desal Mushroom Farmand it’s located in Busia County.
When did you start this venture?
I started mushroom farming as a side hustle in September 2021 because I was looking for something to do during my free time. Like in any other farming, mushroom farming has its own challenges, which include climate change, poor quality spawns, and lack of ready market.
What is the day-to-day activity at the mushroom farm?
During planting, I first mix the substrate and place them in bags. I sterilize the bags for one hour and I let them cool overnight. After that, I do spawn inoculation and I place the bags in a dark room for 28 days to allow the mycelium to colonize the bag. After 28 days, I open the bags and transfer the bags to the grow room.
How much do you earn in a good month minus all the related costs?
A month’s earnings range from Sh30,000 to Sh50,000 minus the costs and related expenses. Some of the expenses are buying the growing bags, buying the substrate, buying the packaging container, and paying farm workers.
What special skills does one require to become a mushroom farmer?
You don’t require any skills but you need to undergo a short training which costs Sh10,000. The training includes substrate preparation, how to care for the mushroom, how to control pests and diseases, how to harvest mushrooms, and how to market your product.
What is the value of mushrooms generally?
Mushrooms help reduce cholesterol, fight cancer, build bones, prevent joint pain, reduce diabetes, and boost immunity.
Who are your main customers?
My customers range from children to adults. Some of the mushroom by-products are fresh mushrooms, dry mushrooms, mushroom porridge mix, mushroom flour, and mushroom spawn.
What do you like about mushroom farming?
Mushroom farming is a good venture for the youth and women since it requires a simple structure and readily available raw materials like sawdust, maize cobs, and dry banana leaves.
What do you think needs to be done to improve mushroom farming in Kenya?
Policies should be put in place to enable the mushroom industry to grow.