Mr. Gerald Kyeyune Muwanga , Team Leader, Dr. John James Okiror , Mr. Katende Stephen Sserunjogi, Mr. Muhereza Begumya David , Mr. Mivule Danson, Mr. Kigonya Allan, Mr. Mbowa Lutimba)
The Need: Rapid population growth in sub-Saharan has contributed to shortage of land leaving communities with less land for agriculture. More still, communities experience recurrent shocks arising from climate variability and climate change with high dependence on subsistence Agriculture because the yields are meager and non-diversified.
The Innovation: Growing of high value crops like mushrooms on smaller holdings will provide an important livelihood option for rural farmers. Mushrooms are not widely grown in Eastern Africa yet are of high demand in hotels, hospitals and homes. One of the key barriers to mushroom growing in the region is the requirement to use cotton-seed hulls as the medium for germinating and growing the mushroom plant. In addition, the cotton-seed hulls have to be sterilized, which is often done by roasting with firewood, yet it is increasingly scarce and greatly affects the environment. This project proposes to explore and develop a new medium for mushroom growing using crop residues that are locally available in the target communities, instead of cotton seed-hulls. In addition, the project proposes to explore new methods of sterilizing the crop-residues – instead of relying on firewood. Plenty of these crop-residue materials are available on farm without significant alternative uses. Secondly, use of soap and water will be employed as an alternative low cost sterilizing method.
Project Impact: Breaking barriers to mushroom growing (especially the growth medium and the sterilization process) will render the growing of this high value crop cheaper for rural subsistence farmers. This platform can also be used to build community agency for improved agriculture and to launch other approaches to modernize Agriculture. This project has been successfully piloted and tested while engaging over 120 farmers (women and vulnerable groups at household levels) and has shown impressive results.