Mushroom farming insight for farmers

Nigeria: Mushroom farming for food, medicine, and animal feed 

Mushroom farming is gaining ground in Nigeria, with more farmers growing the crop in their backyards or even their kitchens.

Olaide Ayeni is a mushroom farmer. He says many restaurants and hotels import mushrooms to add to their meals because there are few mushroom farmers in the country.

He adds, “Nigeria is a good place for [a] mushroom business…. It can be grown all year round, creating employment, healthy living, and wealth for the farmers.”

He says that people shy away from growing mushrooms because they lack the materials and information to get started.

Mr. Ayeni says one advantage of growing mushrooms is the short harvest cycle, which means farmers can start getting a return on their investment sooner than they think.

Chi Tola Roberts is president of Nigeria’s Mushroom Development Foundation. She says: “It is a kind of farming that requires time and commitment. You treat this fungus like you treat your baby; it needs care, it needs to avoid contamination, but if you are able to go through all those hurdles, it pays off.”

Ms. Roberts adds that mushrooms contain important nutrients: “Mushroom, with protein content ranging from three to seven percent when fresh and 25 to 40 percent when dry, can play an important role in enriching human diets when meat sources are limited.”

She says: “As a dietary source of protein, mushrooms are superior to most fruits and vegetables, with the exception of beans and peas. Mushrooms can be eaten fresh or cooked, unlike other protein sources such as soya and yeast that have to be processed.”

Mushrooms also contain important dietary minerals, including selenium, copper, potassium, and phosphorus.

Adeoye Enitan grows mushrooms. He says: “Most of the mushrooms we have in our supermarkets are imported. We can produce them here in large quantities, if we really want to take it as a lucrative business that it is.”

Another farmer, Salami Azeez, says that, rather than depending on the old method of picking mushrooms in the wild, farmers can grow them—even in the city.

Mr. Azeez notes that some mushrooms are sought after not only because of their usefulness in the kitchen, but also for their medicinal qualities.

Ms. Roberts suggests yet another use for mushrooms: fish food.

She says in countries such as Nigeria where maize is the main carbohydrate source for livestock and fish as well as humans, livestock feed based on maize is expensive.
She explains: “Now we can replace maize with … cultured dried whole mushroom in fish feeds, as experiment[s] tried and results confirmed that oyster mushroom supports the growth of fingerlings [young fish].”

Ms. Roberts is calling for more government support for the mushroom industry, which she says has great potential in Nigeria.