The Ministry of Agriculture has called on Rwandan farmers to take on commercial mushroom growing.
Despite their role in food security, with high quality protein and healthy food nutrients, mushrooms are still an ignored produce in the country.
In an interview, Innocent Musabyimana, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), said the ministry intends to step up the crop awareness campaign.
“We expect to have radio talk shows about mushrooms and their role in fighting malnutrition. We shall also demonstrate how they are prepared especially during this period of the national campaign against malnutrition,” he said.
The government has committed itself to eliminating malnutrition within six months.
Mushroom provides 17.7 percent of the body building material next to meat at 19 percent and far above other body building food, including milk.
“The crop has proved that it reduces cholesterol in the body,” said Doreen Mutoni, in charge of Mushrooms at RAB.
Musabyimana said that through Chinese technology of growing mushrooms (JUNCAO) 30 companies are already producing seeds (spawns) for commercial mushroom production. More than 1000 farmers are involved in mushroom growing.
The Chinese technology was introduced in Rwanda as a pilot project in 2006 by Chinese experts.
It’s in this regard that the Chinese Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, was asked by the government to set up Rwanda Agriculture Technology Demonstration Centre (RATDC) to train farmers in mushroom growing.
The Centre based at Rubona has so far benefited about 200 farmers.
“It is commercially viable for investment and the private sector needs to explore the opportunity,” Musabyimana said.
According to Mushroom concept note, its protein contains all the essential amino acids required by man as well as the commonly occurring non-essential amino acids and amides. Other nutrients contained in the mushroom include fat, phosphorus and iron.
Being labour intensive, mushroom growing is expected to create more jobs for the community to improve their income, especially rural women and youth.
Chinese mushroom expert at RATDC, Lin Yingxing, said 22 people in the country have specifically been trained on mushroom nutrition and cooking while 36 others were trained last December in mushroom cultivation.
The technology has been spread to other parts of the world, however, in Africa only Lesotho and Rwanda have pioneered to benefit from the Chinese know-how.
The Centre is expected to be officially launched this month.