George Nyakundi 41 years old from Nyang’enang’eni in Nyamira County does not regret for investing in mushroom farming.
Nyakundi says he grew up in a poor family background where his parents could not afford to send him to good school to learn. Nevertheless his parents struggled in educating him something which he says pulled him back adding that he could have performed better in his studies if at all his parents were financially stable.
Upon completion of his form four studies, Mr Nyakundi’s dreams to join college were shut in that his parents couldn’t afford to pay fees for him.
Idea got born
Nyakundi says he was not left with option but to venture into odd jobs to make a living. Having worked as a casual labourer in various cities and towns in Kenya for more than 10 years he opted to return back to his village to venture into mushroom farming.
“After working as a casual labour for companies I decided to call it a quit. I returned back home where the idea of venturing came in and that is how I started this project,” says Nyakundi.
15 years later Mr Nyakundi still sticks to the mushroom farming and says he will not quit it any time soon.
Since then he had been concentrating in his farm and expanded his mushroom farming.
However, his indomitable spirit which is easily accommodative to changes, he always kept himself busy in finding a better source of earning a living to meet the ever increasing needs of his family.
Mr Nyakundi who is now married says he has fully joined him in the mushroom farming where he says they are now doing quite well.
“Mushroom farming is the best form of farming and promising source of income,” Nyakundi says.
He said that in order for one to carry out mushroom farming one has to construct mushroom house, substrate sugarcane bogus, agricultural lime, molasses, wheat plant, soya mills.
“After you have all these supplements, you put them in the polythene bag and mix them with water (not chlorinated), you steam all the supplements by doing this you ,” he said.
The following day you siphon with mushroom seeds then you transfer them to the mushroom house; you put them on a high a raised platform not to get contact with soil.
According to him 21-30 days mushroom will start to flourish from one medium one can harvest 15 times depending on how one maintains them.
Mr Nyakundi say the venture has turned out come out to be a successful enterprise where his monetary gains started rising gradually.
He says from these farming components the family now earns high income of around Ksh 10,000 per day.
Nyakundi says after doing a variety of mushroom cultivation for a while he opted to narrow down to cultivate oyster mushroom on experimental basis and within few days he managed to purchase the required spawn and started with 250 beds in polybags.
He further notes that he has raised his batch of Mushroom successfully and usually markets it with ease to the vendors
One batch of the crop produces 1 kg mushroom which can fetch up to 1000 in cash.
“When I harvest mushroom I supply them to Kisii, Nyamira, Kisumu, Nairobi, Kericho, Bomet and Eldoret,” he notes.
The farmer now engages his neighbors in the mushroom unit which he has built newly with thatched roof with more plinth area.
With technological backstopping the farmer’s interest and ability to invest is sure to go in a big way make him happier person in future.
His efforts, has proved that the initiative can be a catalyst for earning a livelihood through diversification of traditional to artificial farming.
Pooling his resources which had never earlier on thought of farm diversification, has become successful entrepreneur who has engaged in mushroom cultivation that is now paying him huge dividends.
He also says he feels delighted when other farmers in the area visit their home to see their endeavor.
Mr Nyakundi says he was engaged in traditional farming but a few years ago he decided to cultivate mushrooms to make a living out of it.
They 300 bags of mushrooms stored in three halls covering an area of 3,600 square feet that have netted him a lot of money.
In addition he says through this modern farming he is able to earn between Ksh, 10,000 0, to Ksh15, 000 daily.
As he knew availability of compost could be a major problem he has also set up a small mushroom compost plant in the village.
“The compost is prepared on different levels of the unit for three weeks, then filled into bags and kept at an average temperature of 21-25 degrees Celsius for 15 to 20 days until the growth of mycelium reaches the maximum”, said Nyakundi.
Nyakundi says through the farming he has been able to own a motorbike and now he is looking at purchasing a matatu commonly referred to as a probox.
He notes that the mushroom farming had played a key role in his success by something which has him motivated to continue practicing it fully.
“I embarked on my venture without a second thought. Gradually my business grew bigger and today it is paying me well”,.says Nyakundi.
He is majorly involved in mushroom cultivation throughout the year and through what he earns he is able to take of his family as well pay school fees for his children.
Nyakundi said the main challenge he undergoes is some of the faults in the steps to follow in the process of cultivation of mushroom in polybags sometimes get blackened due sterilization of the bedding material. .
“Also another challenge is inadequate capital to expand the mushroom house,” he says.
He also said that mushrooms needs much time to take care for them something which he says is challenging as he is forced to abandon to carry out other activities.
He asked national and county government to empower agricultural farming.
“Unfortunately, small mushroom cultivation as well as small poultry and dairy farming units are being charged commercial power rates, and the government should look into the matter. There is no scheme presently for promoting small mushroom cultivation units in the county” said.
Nyakundi at the same time challenged youths who have completed middle level colleges waiting for white collar jobs to invest on farming instead arguing that it pays off well.
He also asked Ministry of Agricultural to sensitize and educate farmers at grass root on the importance of farming.