By Prudence Minayo
Mushrooms farming is still a novelty in Kenya as most farmers opt for traditional crops like maize and beans. A section of farmers who have chosen this less trodden path, like Paul Nyongesa, are reaping handsomely. Rather than go at it alone, he has also helped other farmers grow and sell the vegetable.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
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He ventured into mushroom farming in 2005 while he was undertaking his Master of Science in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Masinde Muliro University.
He planted oyster mushrooms in a 3.5×3.5m room in a three-bedroom house he was renting in Amalembe Estate, Kakamega county. At the time, he was just testing the waters. He began making Ksh20,000 per month which was enough to sustain his needs and see him through school.
Forming Galaxy and going big
He later helped form a group called Galaxy United Youth Group, which comprises mushroom farmers.
The aim of the group was to boost the ability to win tenders from supermarkets and crop retailers.
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The group went on to own a shop in Kakamega which acts as a mushroom collection center and a venue for their meetings.
Through the group, they are able to sell tons of mushrooms every month. They also grew the membership to over thirty individual farmers from the area.
In 2008, he moved from the small room to half an acre piece of land and continued to grow the business.
At one point, he worked as a program officer for United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Taita and Kwale. However, he decided to leave and focus on the mushroom business.
In a 2021 interview with Nation, he revealed that they were harvesting between 40 to 50 kilograms per day with a kilo of fresh mushrooms going for Sh400.
Apart from selling fresh mushrooms, he and the members of his group also sell dried mushrooms. Twenty kilograms of mushrooms produce about two kilos of dried matter. He then packs the matter into 50g bags which he sold for Ksh150.
According to a 2021 feature on Farmbiz Africa, the Galaxy group as a whole produced 200 kilos of dried mushrooms per day with this increasing to 600 during the rainy season.
The group also dry and grind mushrooms with a kilo fetching Ksh3000 against Ksh400 of fresh mushroom. They made Ksh3.4 million from the dry mushroom and Ksh450,000 from the fresh produce as of 2021.
They would then divide the money after costs of production which amounted to about Ksh1.7 million.
The farmer revealed to Nation that he invested Sh100,000 in the Value Addition Business. The money went towards the purchase of a fridge, posho mill, and construction of two solar dryers.
The solar dryers are made from wood cuttings and high density polythene materials. He also started making nutri-flour from mushroom, millet, sorghum and sweet potatoes.
“I invested Sh100,000 into the value addition business with the money going on buying a posho mill, fridge and construction of two solar dryers each measuring a metre wide, three metres long and 0.5 metres from the ground with two shelves,” he told Seeds of Gold.
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