What makes mushroom cultivation unique from conventional farming is it does not require arable land, requires small piece of land, agro wastes are used, can be grown in rural areas and offers quick returns as within thirty days mushrooms can be harvested if the oyster mushrooms are grown and within fifteen days if the paddy mushrooms are grown. Whilst wild mushrooms remain popular the cultivated once ensures mushrooms are available all year round.
Mushrooms are a delicacy, over that there are many benefits: mushrooms are such a nutritious food that is low in calories, virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free, have very low levels of sugar and salt; they provide a valuable source of dietary fibre, as well as several vitamins and minerals, high protein content higher than most vegetables and they also contain various medicinal properties. Mushtella is working hard to educate the nation on nutrition and medicinal benefits of mushrooms. We are also playing a role in the provision of spawn (“seed”) a critical input to mushroom production, many can grow mushrooms but spawn production is an advanced science, we also sell kits and other inputs to growers.
The government of Zimbabwe has no policy on mushrooms and does not support mushroom farmers despite the fact the mushroom industry is a multi-billion industry worldwide, the country continues to import a substantial amount of mushrooms from South Africa. However the growing of mushrooms in Zimbabwe is on the increase, this is due to the increased number of private trainers. The availability of spawn has also caused the recent increase in mushroom farms. Mushroom growing is good for urban agriculture due to its low land requirements.
Mushroom growing can be done as a core agriculture activity or done as a side farming activity which blends very well with conventional farming. Where a symbiotic relationship is established: mushrooms will rely on conventional farming for agro waste and in turn after mushroom growing the waste is used as manure. A number of non-governmental organisations are involved in the promotion of mushrooms in Zimbabwe: mainly in rural areas, this is commendable in the absence of government support.
Despite the lack of government policy and support to mushroom cultivation, the prospects are bright, the improvement of the economy from the hyperinflation environment has seen stability in the industry and spawn laboratories can now import cultures and equipment, recovery of the tourism industry is also key to sustenance of the industry, the booming market is also key, not only for the Zimbabwean market but also export market.