European Union (EU) head of delegation to Tanzania ambassador Tim Clarke has pledged to connect small-scale mushroom growers with reliable markets, stressing that mushroom farming is central in addressing rural poverty. Clarke promised the small-scale mushroom farmers last week, when he visited a mushroom collection and packaging facility under construction in Bashnet village in Babati town, Manyara region. “Mushroom farming is a viable project for rural communities and needs to be supported to attract more farmers,” he said, adding: “I am impressed with what you are doing and I promise to do something about it so that you can get reliable markets for your produce.” He commended smallholder farmers for engaging in mushroom farming.
Farm Africa enterprise development officer Farida Hassan said the mushroom collection and packaging facility under construction had been financed through EU financial support and would be serving 13 groups of mushroom farmers in the area. She said the facility would be operational by next month and would give every mushroom grower an opportunity to use it for packaging processes and add value to the produce. According to her, completion of the building will help more farmers in the village access modern mushroom farming and improve crop production. Over 200 people are engaged in mushroom farming and the number is likely to go up to 500 in the near future. “It takes 26 days for a farmer to start harvesting mushroom. That is why Farm Africa and EU agreed to boost mushroom farming in the area,” she noted.
Commenting on the market, the official said mushrooms were in high demand in and outside Tanzania because of being nutritious and medicinal. “So, the market for mushrooms is no longer a problem. It is sold in the supermarkets and other outlets available in almost all towns and major cities,” Farida explained. Currently, one kilo of dried mushroom sells at 60,000/-, making the crop more profitable compared to other crops in Bashnet. Mushroom farming needs plant residues like seed husks, rice stalks, sawdust and other organic residues, spawn for mycelia production and a mushroom house. The cultivation of mushrooms is relatively simple and can be a homestead project. The agro-climatic conditions in Babati district are conducive for mushroom cultivation all the year round.
Publication date: 10/25/2011