The KZN Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development (DAEARD)
Why was it started?
Poverty alleviation and improved food security.
How was it done?
The KZN DAEARD is building a commercial oyster-mushroom production facility.
The department provides bags of growing medium already inoculated with oyster-mushroom spawn. Then the beneficiaries water and care for the growing mushrooms. If it’s warm harvesting takes place twice a week, although this drops to once a week when it’s cold. A bag of inoculated growing medium can be harvested for as long as three months.
Paul, one of the key drivers behind the success of the project, was trained at Juncao Institute of China’s Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University.
About 60 community members are growing oyster mushrooms for home consumption and for sale.
Each grower will first be trained in oyster mushroom production at the KZN DAEARD’s new isiKhowe Mushroom Research and Training Centre at Cedara, and will receive two or more 1m x 3m mushroom-growing trenches in KwaDindi’s communal tunnels.
Oyster-mushroom farming for poverty alleviation appealed to the KZN DAEARD because the production technology from China grows mushrooms in waste organic material that’s cheaply and readily available.
Furthermore, at the end of a three-month production period, the depleted medium can be used as compost in community vegetable gardens.
The KZN DAEARD gives KwaDindi’s oyster-mushroom farmers almost everything they need to grow their crop, but a commercial production facility is being constructed and once operational, this support will gradually decrease until farmers pay for all aspects of the value chain.
The KZN DAEARD will continue to offer technical support and training to farmers whenever necessary, but the ultimate goal is for the community to have a self-sustainable commercial business.
Social and Economic Implications
KwaDindi’s oyster mushroom growers have made at least R2 500 from a trench over a three-month period. This amount will increase once they start selling on a large scale at the right prices.
Paul Ngcobo on 082 298 9637