Archive for July, 2011

challenges in the mushroom industry in Zimbabwe

There are a number of challenges we face as mushroom growers in Zimbabwe by mentioning them here I
hope I will get feedback from you on how we can solve some of these things.

1. Bogus trainers: we have too many bogus trainers, the worst I have seen do not grow mushrooms and
just give theoretical training, its so sad, this has led to many challenges we have to face, due to such training, we have
people who have lost confidence in the industry. Some of the trainers seem to have never read a
mushroom growing book or at least read an article because what they teach is simply dangerous. There are
so many people whom when I talk to tell me they need potato sacks to grow oyster mushrooms, I am not sure who
popularised the idea, I am not saying its wrong, but the point is it seems when he/she trained he/she taught
one method and its not the best and it seems to me the trainer did not research well, many people have lost money to these trainers firstly by paying to be trained secondly
applying methods that are outdated or which do not work, this challenge is not only peculiar to Zimbabwe but
it is common across Africa.

 I supplied spawn to an orphanage in Karoi, due to negligence and poor training they did not do so well, as is common people quickly shift the blame to the spawn supplier so they took the spawn to the nearest mushroom grower who quickly concluded that it was “fake”, what was  clear is the grower was not told spawn can come in different forms or spawn can be on sawdust or any other material, this goes back to my point on poor trainers.

2. Lack of a growers association, this challenge is linked to the above as the association can regulate growers and trainers and bring back order, an association is very important to the growth of the industry, There are a lot of inconsistencies that we need to address and they can only be addressed if we join hands, for this reason I have joined others in the quest to form the association you can phone me or visit our group on face book: Mushroom Growers Zimbabwe if you want to join or get more information on what progress we have made in that endeavour.

I will talk of other challenges in future posts:

Poisonous mushroom: facts and myths in Zimbabwe


As a mushroom enthusiast, I am concerned with the fear that many people have for mushrooms, most people I meet just have fear of the mushrooms even if they can not explain why they are afraid, I usually ask people, do you have a friend or a relative who died of mushroom poisoning?, I have only met one lady who had a brother who died of mushroom poisoning since I started mushroom growing in 2003. Before I go on with this subject let me state that all cultivated mushrooms are safe. The subject of poisonous mushrooms only comes into picture when we talk of wild mushrooms. I have learnt that what people usually talk of are just myths. In the wild there are poisonous mushrooms and non poisonous mushrooms, if you can not identify which is edible and non edible you are recommended not to venture into mushroom hunting, let experts do that(in Zimbabwe the experts are usually the old people or those who have received the knowledge from such people). If you are buying mushrooms on the roadside you better be sure of the type you are buying or you are putting your life in the hands of the one who gathered. Let me also state the danger of  mushroom poisoning  is generally overstated, out of all those who consume mushrooms only a small percentage eat the poisonous ones compared to the edible ones.  I have only read two reports of poisoning in the last two years, there might be some unreported cases, the reported cases I managed to pick in the press give me an average that does not exceed people per year(this is an average I have come up considering reported cases I heard of or read-for the past five years). Statistically how many people die from road accidents per week, but people are not afraid to travel-the conclusion the fear is propagated by myths especially the myth that mushrooms growing under gum trees are all poisonous such that before a person buys mushroom they ask you are there not grown near gum trees (I will talk about how this myth developed in Zimbabwe In my future posts.
My advise to those who want go for mushroom hunting, go with an experienced person, this reduces the risk, the most safe way is to buy mushrooms from your local supermarket or directly from a grower near you, as I mentioned earlier – cultivated mushrooms are 100% safe. The bookshops have what are generally called field guides to mushrooms/mushroom hunting, my advise is those books are good but must never be trusted solely, relying on a field guide may be fatal, its better to go with someone experienced and then compare with the filed guide(descriptions may not be enough, colours may not be clear in the field guide and some mushrooms change colour as they grow, a good guide explains where to get the mushroom, arrangement of gills, colour, if the mushroom has a volva, a ring, structure of the stem and cap.

this post is not exhaustive I just touched on a few things, so be careful poisonous mushrooms exist.

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