Mushroom Production

Edible mushrooms can be produced on a wide range of waste material. We use sawdust from nearby sawmills which is usually just burned.

Pleurotus is a genus of gilled mushrooms which includes one of the most widely eaten mushrooms, P. ostreatus, also called the oyster mushroom. It is this mushroom that we are currently cultivating.

Oyster mushrooms are an excellent food – they are highly nutritious with lots of amino acids and easily digestible protein, they are good for the immune system and for growing kids. Here Paul Yeboah explains why we have chosen to focus on growing mushrooms.

Impact of the project

Lower down we show you in detail how to do it step-by-step. But first, Paul and Richard explain what impact this project is having in the area.

STEP#1 Prepare the substrate (material used for growing mushrooms on).

The first step is to prepare the sawdust that we are going to use to grow the mushrooms on. It is better if we partially compost the sawdust first, to break it down a little and make it less acidic. We compost it for 51 days and turn it over once every 4 days, watering it if it is not raining.

Here Richard our mushroom expert shows us how it is done.

Step#2 bag up the substrate.

The second step is to bag up the compost in polybags, ready for heat sterilisation.

STEP#3  STERILISE THE SUBSTRATE.

The bags of composted sawdust substrate are put into a metal drum with a tight fitting lid, which has some water in the bottom. The drum is sealed and heated over a fire to create steam, which rises through the bags and sterilises them, killing all micro-organisms that could compete with the  mushrooms we want to grow.

STEP#4  INOCULATE THE SUBSTRATE.

We then inoculate the sterilised compost substrate with mushroom “mycelium”, also known as “spawn”. This is the seed of the mushroom, which we grow on sterilised grain and then use to inoculate the sterilised sawdust bags. Richard explains the process here.

STEP#5 Grow the bags on in the incubation room.

After the bags have been inoculated with spawn, they go into the incubation room, where they are kept in the dark and the spawn grows into the sterilised compost substrate for about 4 to 6 weeks.  Our incubation room can hold about 20,000 bags. When the compost bags are full of spawn, they go into our cropping house to produce mushrooms, or are sold to other people to grow mushrooms in their own communities.

STEP#6  crop the mushrooms

The spawn-filled compost bags then go into a cropping house. Here they are allowed to have some light, which stimulates the growth of the mushrooms. It is important to keep them moist and cool, because if the bags dry out too much, the mushroom mycelium will die. So the bags are stacked together and are regularly sprayed with water to keep them moist. They then produce mushrooms for around three months.