Agribusiness: University dropout trying his hand at mushroom farming

Uwizeyimana (centre) with other farmers during the training in China. Photos by Simon Peter Kaliisa.

Elie Patrick Uwizeyimana is among few young Rwandans, who got an opportunity to get involved in mushroom farming at an early stage.

After failing to complete university in 2011, Uwizeyimana got a job in one of the then few companies that were practicing mushroom farming in a country where he was introduced to the production process of the crop.

Having little knowledge in mushroom growing and eager to learn, Uwizeyimana involved himself at many activities associated with mushroom production (from reproduction to selling the final product).

Uwizeyimana said that this helped him a lot in understanding the all process of mushroom growing.

One of the farmers shows off her harvest. 

 He was also able to get more training in mushroom growing provided by Rwanda Agricultural Board.

After the training, he secured a job at another company where he continued working but now majoring more in mushroom reproduction process.

At his second job, he landed two opportunities of being among the few lucky local farmers who were chosen to attend training in mushroom growing in China and Israel in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

It is after these training the twenty-nine years old, decided to have something of his own given the huge knowledge he had acquired from the training plus 6 years of experience.

Kick-off

On returning to Rwanda after the training,  Uwizeyimana realized that many Rwandans had already recognized the need  to have  mushroom as part of their diet while at the same time, farmers had also got interested in the growing the crop but limited by challenges of accessibility of the seedlings (Spawns).

Mushroom reproduction is delicate and complicated for the local farmer to practice because it involves multiple sophisticated activities including production of compost, sterilizing the compost, mixing it with other ingredients among other activities.

With his wide knowledge, he decided to go into mushroom reproduction so that he could make it easier for farmers to access the spawns so that they realize their abilities.

He rented a parcel of land for his endevours.

Uwizeyimana recalls that he had to use the small savings he had kept away from his two former jobs.

From his saving totaling to Rwf 800,000 he was able to secure a small piece of land he rented from someone in Kabuye, Gasabo District.

On this piece of land, he established a nursery bed with a capacity of producing 500 spawns.

Moving forward

After being able to sell all his first stock immediately after harvesting, he was motivated to scale up the production.

Currently, he is producing over 10,000 spawns every quarter.

He sells his ready spawns to local farmers at Rwf 500 per each spawn.

From this revenue, he has been able to establish another nursery bed in Nyamata Sector, Bugesera District.

He said mushroom reproduction has had a huge impact on his earnings from Rwf 100,000 he was paid on his second job to about Rwf 400,000 every month.

He has been also able to employ 5 permanent workers who help him at his nursery farm and more than 25 seasonal jobs especially during packaging.

To increase the uptake of mushroom farming among the local farmers, Uwizeyimana also provides free lessons to his customers and any other who would like to engage in mushroom growing on how to it best.

 Uwizeyimana added that to help his customers increase their income from mushroom growing, he also provides them with knowledge in value addition.

Uwizeyimana was not being able to access one of the most important material (cotton stalks) in the local market as well as some machines which can help him to increase and speed up the production.

However, Uwizeyimana hopes that, over time, he will able to get the machine which will boost his production capacity to match growing demand.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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