New indigenous vegetable research project (Kenya)

Kenya produces about 500t of mushrooms annually with a farm-gate value of Sh255m ($2.5m) and retail value of Sh340m ($3.4m).

This is according to Mt Kenya University researcher John Nderitu, who is leading scientists in a project to enhance productivity, value addition and marketing of indigenous vegetables in the country.
Nderitu says that Kenya imports about 81.5t of dried mushrooms worth Sh9.8m ($98,973) and exports about 16t of mushrooms worth Sh3.9m ($39,387). The two main types of commercialised mushrooms in Kenya are Agaricus bisporus (button) and Pleurotus spp (Oyster). He explains that the button mushroom is the main variety produced by large-scale growers, while oyster mushrooms are preferred by small-scale producers because of economic, ecological and medicinal benefits. According to Nderitu, the major constraints affecting mushroom farmers are the inadequate supply of quality spawn, poor research and failure to identify best agricultural practices and development of standards along the mushroom value chain. “While the production of mushrooms for food is a lucrative economic activity, this has not been fully exploited. Few investigations have been done on the nutritional value and possibility of deriving novel antibiotics from mushrooms in East Africa.”
He says that the overall objective of the study funded by The Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project is to develop optimum technologies and practices along the entire value chain of selected indigenous vegetables – cowpeas, Solanum complex, spider plant, pumpkin, Amaranth, mushrooms and French beans – among poor communities in Kenya.
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