ASNAPP Country 4 Ps
|Gourmet Mushrooms for a Developing Southern Africa|
|Written by Kreatif|
|Monday, 14 July 2008 08:30|
In cooperation with the South African Gourmet Mushroom Academy, ASNAPP conducted an intensive training course on the cultivation of white button and gourmet mushrooms. The aim of the course was to provide training, and ensure that delegates were equipped with the knowledge and skills that would allow them to train and promote understanding on the growth and production of this specialised foodstuff. Candidates were carefully selected and included people from South Africa, Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho.
The course was presented over eight days and included visits to oyster and shiitake mushroom farms. A practical training course was held at the ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, where delegates were not only instructed in the culinary uses of the various mushrooms, but on the medicinal uses such as anti-viral, anti-tumour properties and the use of mushrooms to prevent the occurrence of high blood pressure and diabetes.
The course was designed and led by Dr Adriaan Smit, a well-known international gourmet mushroom specialist. Dr Smit is the founder of the Mushroom Research Centre at ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, in Stellenbosch - the only research centre in South Africa that identifies and researches gourmet and medicinal mushroom species. Dr Smit was appointed honourary lecturer/science advisor at the South African Gourmet Mushroom Academy during January 2005.
The theoretical aspect of the course covered different types of mushrooms and the identification of poisonous and edible mushrooms in the wild. It gave an overview of the mushroom life cycle and different types of cultivation methods such as bottle culture cultivation and open tray cultivation. Post-harvest handling, packaging and marketing, as well as pests and diseases were a few of the topics that were covered.
The practical training incorporated choosing the correct media for each specific type of mushroom, sterilisation methods, growing of mycelia (the vegetative part of the mushroom; the actual mushroom being formed when the fungus ''blooms'') and producing spores, which was then transferred to substrates for the mushrooms to grow. Upon leaving, each candidate received some of the mycelia of assorted mushrooms in growth media so that they had starting material for their own mushroom production once they got back home.
In preparation for the course, Dr Smit assessed the mushroom industry in Zambia, chosen because they already cultivate mushrooms for local market. Zambia is known for its edible mushrooms as well as its medicinal mushrooms. It was in Zambia that Dr Smit became acquainted with some of the most important stake-holders in the Zambian mushroom industry. He visited the ASNAPP offices in Zambia, the School of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Zambia, the Zambia Agri Business Technical Assistance Centre, as well as retail supply chains as well as local mushroom producers.
Topics that were discussed include: Gourmet and medicinal mushroom activities in Zambia, spawn production, distribution of white button mushrooms and production facilities of shiitake- and oyster mushrooms. He was able to make certain suggestions and recommendations and develop a training course with this information in mind.
Two organisations from Zambia will benefit from this intensive training course. The Mitengo Womens' Co-operative Club is a group of female farmers growing various crops to support themselves. Their core business involves women empowerment through food and nutritional security programmes. There are at least two mushroom production villages near Lusaka with which the Mitengo Women are involved. The coordinator of this project, Ms Jeanivive Mwiinga attended the mushroom training course in Stellenbosch.
The second organisation in Zambia already has an established mushroom spawn production facility, managed by Mr Kingsley Chipampe and Ms Irene Nawa. Apart from spawn production, they also train small and medium-scale farmers to grow oyster mushrooms using agricultural waste as substrate.
Mr Chipampe attended the training in Stellenbosch and learned new techniques on production, which he will transfer to farmers during training. On top of the production and training, the University of Zambia is involved in a joint project with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the production of the Ganoderma lucidu mushroom species. The medicinal properties of this species are believed to benefit HIV/ AIDS patients. Some of the species' supplied to UNZA were king oyster, Shiitake, Enoki and pink oyster mushrooms, which can now be multiplied into commercial spawn and sold to the local producers in Zambia.