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Mushroom Cultivation in Ethiopia for ISMS by xro60491

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									                         Mushroom Cultivation in Ethiopia

                                               By Dawit Abate

Mushroom cultivation is a very recent activity in Ethiopia. The first small scale
mushroom farm, started in 1997 by the cultivation of the oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)
mushroom. Later, the button (Agaricus bisporus) followed by the shiitake (Lentinula
edodes) mushroom were introduced to the local market.

All mushrooms are sold as fresh mushrooms to supermarkets, restaurants and
international hotels in the capital city. The local demand for mushrooms is steadily
growing to about 36 tones per year (button 50%, oyster 40%.and shiitake 10% ) at
present. The mushroom farms still produce less than the local market demand.
Production is increasing by about 20 % annually.

Among the three mushroom growers established to date, Africa Mushroom Company
is the first to establish mushroom growing facilities and to market all the three
mushroom types to the market. Oyster mushrooms are grown in traditional brick pots,
in wooden boxes or plastic bags (Fig 1). Brick pots are particularly useful for
cultivation of the mushroom during the dry season.

                Fig. 1. Oyster mushroom growing

Shiitake mushroom is also grown in plastic bags. After complete invasion of the
substrate in plastic bags, and appearance of browning on the surface of the substrate,
the bags are opened and watered for fruiting (Fig 2)

         Fig 2. Shitake mushrooms on cotton seed waste based substrate

The cultivation of both oyster and shiitake mushrooms is based on cotton seed waste,
sawdust and wheat bran mixtures supplemented with gypsum and limestone powder.

Compost for the cultivation of the button mushroom is based on Tef (Eragrostis tef)
straw. This is the most abundant straw on the highlands of Ethiopia as the staple food
is made from this cereal grain. With appropriate amounts of horse (or cattle) dung and
chicken manure the compost is made outdoors and cultivation takes place in doors in
wooden boxes placed on shelves (Fig 3).

The casing material for the button mushroom is made by mixing the spent substrates
of the three mushrooms and allowing the mixture to decompose further for several
months outdoors. Then the water or rain leached material is used as the casing
material. This was an important experimental finding as peat is not available in the

            Fig 3. Composting and growing button mushroom

Fresh mushrooms are harvested, packed in small baskets or boxes (fig 5) in the
morning and are supplied to supermarkets and hotels the same day. Wild Mushroom
eating habit is variable among the various ethnic groups of the country. More
important is the fact that cultivated mushrooms are too expensive for the ordinary
Ethiopian and consequently mushroom buyers are predominantly foreigners.

              Fig. 4. Packing fresh mushrooms

All the three types of mushrooms are grown in mushroom houses constructed with
local materials. The Ethiopian highlands have a mild climate which enables
mushroom growing possible through out the year with only minor modifications of
temperature and humidity during some parts of the year. The main constraint for
mushroom growers in Ethiopia, however, is getting or producing quality spawn. Each
one of the growers produces its own spawn as commercial spawn suppliers have not
yet been established.

As the mushroom growing facility is dependent on ambient environmental conditions
(temperature, humidity etc), productivity remains low. Moreover, besides pests and
diseases, mould contamination of substrates particularly, on shiitake and oyster
substrates is commonly encountered by mushroom growers.

The availability of raw materials in the country and the mild weather on the highlands
provide opportunities for the mushroom industry to grow in Ethiopia.

Author details:
Dawit Abate is associate professor of mycology, Addis Ababa University. He is also a
technical advisor to Africa Mushroom Company, Addis Ababa and serves as a
resource person for mushroom cultivation development and training in Africa.
Tel. 0251 11 239471
        0251 11 6610789


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