Africa generates huge quantities of organic agricultural and forestry wastes which can be
converted to many marketable products, especially mushrooms. Mushrooms offer great
opportunities for addressing Africa’s poverty and food security challenges since they can be
produced by employment-creating, labour-intensive methods in relatively short periods with
very limited land area and capital investments. Many edible mushroom species are health
foods which contain high amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins and they would
contribute to better household nutrition and health. This project aims at promoting
cultivation of edible and medicinal mushrooms in six countries through appropriate
technology development and transfer. Production skills will be transferred to women, men
and youth through community training workshops. Processing of medicinal mushroom
‘nutriceuticals’ will be demonstrated. The project will also improve networking between
producing communities, government extension services and marketing agencies to improve
profitability and establishment of mushrooms as viable crops that will be integrated in the
local farming systems. Capacity for mushroom research and extension in the participating
countries will be increased through short-term and long-term training of technologists and
scientists. In these ways household food security, family incomes and health will be
improved, thereby improving the general standards of living.
Broad developmental objectives
The Project aims to promote production, consumption and medicinal use of cultivable
mushrooms in southern Africa. Through awareness creation, mushroom farming and
processing skills training, and research capacity building, it proposes to put in place a viable
holistic mushroom industry by 2015, which will have networks of farmers, processors and
marketers of mushroom products within nation states and between southern African states.
The specific objectives are to:
- Create awareness on mushroom cultivation technology and utilisation.
- Promote mushroom production in communities through training, spawn production
and linking farmers to markets.
- Create institutional capacity for research and extension on mushrooms in participating
- Create better understanding of indigenous mushroom species with a potential for
domestication and commercialisation.
- Conserve genetic resources of cultivated mushroom species for public distribution and
research within southern Africa.
- Demonstrate value addition of cultivated medicinal mushrooms through production of
immunity-boosting mushroom nutriceuticals.
The primary beneficiaries of the project will be rural and peri-urban poor people who will
derive income and have better food security. The general population in participating countries
will benefit through enhanced health due to increased consumption of healthy food
(mushrooms) and wider use of medicinal mushrooms which should increase life expectancy.
Participating countries will benefit through building of capacity for mushroom research and
incorporation of mushroom crops into extension programmes for continuity of the industry at
the expiry of the project.
The Project will improve food security by promoting new crops into the farming systems—
mushrooms. Edible mushroom production will become an all year round farm activity which
will contribute to household income that can be used for household necessities including
buying other food products. Mushroom agribusiness will be incorporated into the national
agricultural extension and research programmes of participating countries to bring it to the
level of other cash crops. This will attract local government and private investment and
ensure mushroom farming is sustained.
Production and processing of medicinal mushrooms will be demonstrated for private business
people. The results of this introduction will be twofold: Firstly, it will open up a new line of
business to entrepreneurs and contribute to national gross domestic product increments and
greater regional trade. Secondly, the immunity-boosting products to be channelled out by this
industry will help ameliorate declining health conditions, including those caused by the HIVAID
pandemic. Enhanced health conditions will sustain healthier and more productive
populations, which will in turn increase productivity in a multiplier fashion.
Research and training capacity on mushrooms in the participating countries will be increased.
This will have positive effects on human resources development in regard to mushrooms and
ensure the presence of better mushroom farmers and supporting services in the future.
- Mushroom farmers will sustain their production through the sale of mushrooms to
available local and external markets.
- Additional farmers and communities will receive training from those trained by the
project through farmer-to-farmer training.
- Private mushroom spawn producers and suppliers will eventually be established, as
the products’ demand increases.
- A processing industry for edible mushroom products and medicinal mushroom
“nutriceuticals” will be established which will further increase the market for farmers’
produce and eventually also provide funding to mushroom farming activities.
- Government agricultural departments, research institutions and non-governmental
organisations will have increased capacity for mushroom production extension, thus
ensuring the continuation of expansion after the termination of the project.
- Regional cooperation among S&T and R&D institutions will be enhanced, thus
increasing capacity for regional problem solving in southern Africa.