Paul Ruto is a mushroom farmer from Bomet County.
The agriprenuer resigned from his banking job to pursue mushroom farming after realizing its potential.
Ruto was initially a dairy farmer but he could not make much out of it due to challenges with marketing his produce.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Ruto, a former banker, resigned from his job to pursue mushroom farming that currently earns him up to five times his salary.
His interest in mushroom farming saw him research more about the same and realized that he could more money from farming than his banking career.
“After reading about mushroom farming on Facebook my friends and I formed a WhatsApp group on mushroom farming and learnt more about the changing technologies and advised one another,” he said.
At this time, Ruto who holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Moi University was practicing dairy farming but the returns were not rewarding.
“I first ventured into dairy farming to earn extra income but I realised that marketing milk was not easy and it was labour intensive,” he said.
Ruto underwent a training on mushroom farming at the University of Eldoret shortly before quitting his banking job.
In an interview with The Star, he also noted that he underwent additional training in Kakamega County.
“From Kakamega and with my small investment from dairy farming, I converted my dairy farmhouse into a mushroom farmhouse,” Ruto said.
To put up a farmhouse, Ruto used materials such as banana leaf waste, wheat straw, sawdust and sugar waste from factories.
“You can pick wheat straw at a cost of Ksh 2,000 per tonne and sugar dust waste at Ksh 1,000 per tonne, compare that with two kilos of maize certified seed at Ksh 600, the inputs for mushroom are cheap,” he shared.
However, the ex-banker noted that planting materials are expensive as the seedlings are bought in spores form.
“To start mushroom farming, one is required to have two houses for the harvest to be continuous as after planting one is required to harvest after 45 days and replant after three months,” he stated.
Even though Ruto owns around eight mushroom houses, he says the demand for the mushrooms and mushroom products still cannot be met.
“I started with one house but with only the first harvest the demand was overwhelming and I went for a soft loan to build two more mushroom houses to enable me to sustain my clients,” he explained.
Ruto sells his mushrooms in Kericho, Nyamira, Kisii, Narok and Bomet counties.
“I maintain that technology is wonderful since I don’t travel a lot to market my products, I use digital platforms to reach the market and use the same to get my money,” he said.
The farmer urged young people to consider mushroom farming, however, clarifying that he is not against formal employment.
“Employment is good for raising money to start off and also learning the skills you need for survival in business
“I challenge the youth to stop using the internet to look for inappropriate pictures and videos but as a means to change their lives,” Ruto said.