There are two mainly types of mushrooms planted in the country namely ;the button and oyster. The button mushroom is grown exclusively by large scale farmers since its cultivation is highly sophisticated.
The oyster mushroom was introduced in Kenya in the year 2003 is a species planted mostly by small scale farmers because of its high yielding power, wide fruiting temperature range, superior flavour, high nutritional content, low capital investment and its ease of production.
There are mainly four commercial mushroom farms in the country namely; Agridutt limited, Rift Valley mushrooms, Devani and Kanchan mushrooms and Olive mushrooms.
There are also some small farms that produce mushrooms however; they usually sell their produce to hotels and restaurants around them. The large scale farms sell their produce to supermarkets countrywide.
The growth of the mushroom production sector is in the country is currently at its infant stage and the rate of growth is very slow. Consumption of mushrooms is also low due to the low popularisation.
Mushroom production is at 476 tonnes for the button mushrooms while Kenya has a potential of producing 100,000 tonnes of mushrooms per year. The mushrooms produced/ harvested by farmers are sold in supermarkets, hotels and groceries.
There is a huge demand market demand and hence a great potential for profitability. The production also requires limited land and specifically in Kenya where there is the problem of serious subdivision of land.
As far as mushroom production is concerned, the most important thing is quality spawn. Successful culture at Egerton University will only be possible if spawn is produced in house and the extra spawn is sold or provided to farmers for promotion and demonstration.
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This has been done with success at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). There is need to use available technology that is workable at Egerton University or in Kenya at large where mushroom production is practised on small scale then, this will be put to outreach farmers.
There is also need for research that focuses on feedback from farmers making it a farmer oriented research. Most of the challenges that Kenya is facing in mushroom production, are not only unique to Kenya but, the challenges are everywhere where mushroom production or rather where mushroom culture is practise are carried.
The practice only needs good management to ensure high productivity of the mushrooms planted by the farmers both in small scale and large scale farming. There is plenty of substrate available for mushroom cultivation.