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Mushroom venture earns Juja youth Sh30,000 a day

John Muchura mushroom farmer

John Muchura packaging his mushromms for tranport to the market. He is taking advantage ove the high demand of the crop in the country to grow and earn more from it.

A young farmer from Juja, Kiambu County is earning Sh30,000 from button mushroom farming, a venture he started six years ago after quitting a teaching and electrical job which earned him a small salary of Sh500 per day.

After graduating from the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) then known as Kenya Polytechnic with a Diploma in Electronic Engineering in 2005, John Muchura, 37, got a job with an electrical installation company in Nairobi where he was involved in wiring and electrical appliances installation for the company’s clients in various places.

“My work in the company involved travelling almost on a daily basis on assignments to meet our clients in need of electronic services and I used own money on transport and lunch leaving me with almost no savings at the end of the day,” said Muchura.

After one year, Muchura who also pursued microbiology at TUK but later dropped it, left the company and got a teaching job in a private high school in Ruiru in 2007. From this, he was able to save some money that would enable him to start mushroom farming as a side hustle.

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Kenya produces 500 tonnes per year of which 476 tons are button mushroom against an annual demand of 1200 tonnes, according to National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS). This means there is a high demand of the crop. A kilogram of mushroom is priced at between Sh400 and Sh600.

 “I used some Sh2000 to buy a drum, poles, grass and wheat straws among other materials I knew were basic in growing the crop then used Sh1000 to buy one kilogram oyster mushroom seeds,” said Muchura.

He chose to start with oyster mushroom because according to him it is easy to multiply compared to button mushrooms which mutate making it difficult to produce consistent results as compared to the parent plants.

“Although oyster mushrooms do not do well in the market as compared to button mushrooms, which are easy to market and sell, I could make my own seeds with oyster mushrooms than the button mushrooms that keep changing their productivity rate if seeds are multiplied,” he said.

From one of his 15×20 metres grass-thatched mud house, he used to harvest 20 punnets which is equivalent to five kilos of oyster mushrooms per day. He sold one punnet at Sh100 translating to about Sh2000 a day. This motivated him.

In 2013, he quit teaching to fully focus on mushroom farming. He abandoned oyster mushroom for button mushroom and has since increased his production unit houses from one to five grass-thatched mud house measuring 20×30, 20×25, 15×23, 15×24 and 15×20 metres.

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Currently, he is harvesting over 20 kilos of button mushrooms per day which he sells at Sh600 per kilo earning him Sh12,000 per day.

In addition to this, Muchura trains over 30 farmers from various areas on button mushroom farming. These farmers also produce between 20 and 50 kilos of mushroom daily which he either buys from them or connects them with willing buyers.

“The training started when a farmer visited me and saw what I was doing and able to achieve. After training him and he became successful, he went spreading it to fallow farmers and that is how I got connected to the over 30 farmers,” he said.

Although the farmers source for their own markets, they also rely on Muchura to connect them with better and reliable buyers something he does for free to motivate them to bring in more farmers into mushroom farming as he aims to start a farmers network which can meet market demand.

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The mushroom industry has a well-established private sector investment with large scale commercial farms like Agridutt Limited, Rift valley mushrooms, online mushrooms, Devani and Kanchan mushrooms. However, key exporting companies do not have out growers.

“I source from my the farmers about 50 kilos, add with my 20 kilos making it 70 kilograms or more depending on the market demand in order to sell. I am targeting more farmers who can work as a team so that we can win supply contracts with supermarkets and exporters. At least this will assure as of a more stable and consistent market for our produce.”

button mushroom

Packed mushrooms ready fro sell.

On a good day, he can collect up to 100 kilos of the mushrooms which can earn over Sh60,000 a day. His markets include city park market near Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, open air markets within Kiambu and Nairobi counties and fresh food groceries.

To help him run his five mushroom production houses, he has employed three permanent farm managers whom he has trained. Each of them earn between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000 a month.

You can reach Muchura on +254 737 746619

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