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Mushroom Farming
A DCI Bank for the Poor Development Project

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Now the ball that I am holding is what we call the mushroom garden. They are made out of organic materials called substrate which comes from beans trast, cotton seed hulls,  waste or saw dust etc. These organic materials must be pasteurised before being used to grow the mushrooms. This is done by boiling or steaming.

After pasteurising the substrate you let it cool and you drain the excess water. Then you mix the mushroom seed (spawn) with the substrate, put it into black plastic bags and seal it tightly. You place the substrate in the incubation hut at 25-30 degrees Celsius for at least three weeks which is the incubation period..

After three weeks you remove the black plastic bag and lower the temperature and increase the humidity of the room. After 4-7 days of removing the black plastic bags then the mushroom (or primordia) begins to grow into mature mushroom. Now is the harvest time for the mushrooms and the harvest may continue to come for about two months.

The gardens that I am holding will now start to give mushrooms.  I have started harvesting this morning and have  some ready for sale.

Each kilo of fresh  mushroom is sold locally at 3,000 shillings, so at least daily I am sure of 2,000 to 3,000 shilling depending on the harvest per that day.

Mushroom has nutritional values which are so helpful for the health of my family.

Fresh mushroom has 4% protein, this is the equivalent of the protein content of milk. The protein in mushroom is high quality as it consists of the essential amino acids and amides as well as the non-essential ones which helps to reduce the protein malnutrition that is now so rampant in the poor diet of the refugee camps in northern Uganda. I have the plans to train the women in the camps to grow mushroom.

Mushroom are low in carbohydrates so they are recommended for people who are obese, diabetic, or on diet. The carbohydrate in mushroom contain  polysaccharides that inhibit the growth of cancer tumours. Although mushroom has a very low fat content the fat is high quality being composed of unsaturated fatty acids and lipids, and does not  accumulate around blood vessels to cause heart  problems.

Mushroom are rich in vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, C  and a  precursor of Vit. D. Mushroom are rich in Calcium. Potassium, Phosphorous, Iron and Zinc and have Anti Cancer properties as the polysaccharides inhibit the growth of cancer tumours. Mushroom have been known to cure intestinal and stomach ulcer if eaten regularly, and are used to treat skin diseases, especially those of fungal origin.

Mushroom can be used to treat infectious diseases of bacterial origin as they contain antibiotic properties similar to those of penicillium, and contain egesterol that break down cholesterol in the blood, regulates blood pressure, and prevents hypertension. Mushroom strengthen the immune system of the body.

[Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute,  Kampala ,Uganda]
[Egypt International Centre of Agriculture at Giza, Cairo]
[University of Ghent, Belgium, Federica  Nshemereirwe.]


The Set Up Costs

150,000 shillings or £50 for making a hut. In the refugee camps they already have these small huts which we can use to produce mushroom.

300,000 shillings or £100 per hut is required for seeds, for making up the mushroom beds and the purchase of other things like boiling drums for making up the substrata for the mushroom gardens, polycentric bags, spirit, basin etc to set up the mushrooms.

For the second and further plantings we only need 200,000 / £66 shilling to buy seed.


The Economics

One hut can raise 25 gardens and within 5 weeks each garden can give 9 kilograms of mushrooms.

25 gardens x 9 kilograms of fresh mushroom = 225 kilograms in total per hut.

Here each kilogram is sold locally for 3000 shilling / £1
If dried and send to Kampala for export, a kilogram would sell at 15,000 shillings / £5

One huts brings 225 kilos which locally is sold at £225 or 675,000 shillings.

The initial profit would be 675,000 shillings income less 300,000 shillings for set-up costs which equals to 375,000 shillings or £125 per hut after the first four to five weeks.

After that it would be 675,000 shillings less 200,000 shillings for new seed = 475,000 shillings profit £158.


The Benefits

Last Sunday we had another opportunity to visit our churches in Loro. With the money that I raised from the sale of mushrooms, we were able to transport the team, buy beans, meat, cassava and rice to feed the orphans, widows and other Church members. We found the goat bank animals very healthy and pregnant. The orphans were planting sunflowers, beans and cassava using manure from the goats. The widows were so happy and looking forward to get their own mushroom project started. The Government leader expressed his gratitude to DCI saying, "I would like to appreciate you for the programme that you have come to help us with. We believe that God has seen it. You are the only ones who help the orphans, widows and the oppressed people in Loro." We have plans to help them build a church because they meet under the big tree, which is now risky with the rain. However the bad news is that the rebels are still abducting and killing people just 20 kilometres away.
Pastor George Purkweri.

The writer is Pastor George Purkweri of Lira, Northern Uganda
His Bank for the Poor projects include tailoring, computer training, a goat bank and chicken farming

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