Innovative Oyster Mushroom Farming
Phase 2 of my mushroom farming will be located at the premises of the Federal University of Technology Owerri on a space of 20ft*15ft. To grow the mushrooms, a building with two rooms is needed. One room measuring 5ft*15ft will be made with zinc to provide warmth and darkness for mushroom spawn(seeds) colonization while the other room of 15ft*15ft will be covered with nets and tarpaulin for ventilation, high humidity and light for growth of the mushrooms.
Agricultural waste like sawdust which we will be using for the project will be gotten from a sawmill near the farm and this will be the medium for the mushrooms to grow on. This sawdust will be soaked in water for about 12 hours to ensure that it is properly hydrated and then mixed with about 3% of its dry weight with poultry feed to increase the quantity of mushrooms produced (other materials like groundnut shells, rice or wheat bran, soy bean shells etc. can be used as they are high in nitrogen, but due to their unavailability, poultry feed which can be gotten from animal feed stores will be used).
The substrate (sawdust mixed with poultry feed) will be pressed to remove excess moisture, bagged in polythene bags and then sterilized in an oven to kill any unwanted organism present in the substrate. The sterilized substrate is then allowed to cool and then mixed with oyster spawn(seeds) which can be purchased from Lagos before introducing it into the dark room. In about 2-3 weeks, the substrate will be fully colonized by mushroom mycelium. The substrate can then be transferred into the growing room which has a high humidity, ventilation and light and placed on bamboo shelves to maximize space.
These changes in conditions will enable the substrate to sprout mushrooms in about 3-5 days. Harvest of mushrooms is expected every 4-6 days (approximately once in a week) for 2-3 months so far the humidity of the room is kept high. To provide the required humidity, a knapsack sprayer will be used to spray the room daily. From experience,1kg of sawdust gives an equivalent of 1-3kg of mushrooms in 2-3 months under good conditions. For our project, we shall be making use of 2500kg (2.5 tons) of dry sawdust. Assuming we are only able to get the minimum of 1kg of mushroom per kg of sawdust in 12weeks (3 months) from 2000kg of sawdust out of 2500 used, weekly production will be averaged at 140kgs of mushrooms as production fluctuates with time.
January 2017 – Apply for funds to start a medium scale farm.
Plan B – Start on a small scale and increase as revenue increases.
Febuary – Preparation of materials and equipment and start of project.
March – First phase of project production and revenue.
April – Education of interested individuals on mushroom production as a viable source of income and employment.
May – Continue with sensitization and increase of production to suit market demands. Also finding and working with interested individuals and organizations (especially universities) to further research on other use of this fungi.
June – Feedback of activities and reports to CSAAEINC.
It is expected that before the end of the 6 months, the mushroom project should be a developing business that provides a good source of proteins to Nigerians especially to patients with high cholesterol level. One of the main aim is also to help at least 15 Nigerians to be self-employed in this venture.
The mushroom project is just one of many projects that are to come that will cut across different fields of disciplines in the university in order to interest young graduates leaving the university to ponder on how they can use what they study in school to develop ways of producing good agricultural crops for the teeming African population and its industries. This will also help foster entrepreneurship and minimize our dependence on imported food and processed produce. To achieve this, I will be working with some University Professors as one professor of Agriculture department at the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Prof. C.C. Okwujiako has shown interest in my project and is ready to work supervise.