On December 18, 2012, Hon. Dr. Agnes Kalibata and the CEO of Kigali Farms, Laurent Demuynck, discussed the progress and current status of their efforts into bringing mushrooms to the Rwandan market.
Mushrooms are almost non-existent within the Sub-Saharan African market, and Kigali Farms uses European models of spawn and sub-strate technology to develop farmers as out-growers who can profitably grow mushrooms, while maintaining an affordable retail price. Kigali Farms views Rwanda as an exceptional place to invest due to the mushrooms’ nutrient-rich qualities and its potential to open quality markets for farmers and tackle food security.
Demuynck brings good news to the Ministry of Agriculture & Animal Resources; they have just obtained financing, and looking to receive more funds in addition. Kigali Farms is now looking at prospective land plots of Rwanda as the most effective area to begin building mushroom houses and facilities. Demuynck and Minister Kalibata plan to partner together to find ideal locations. Their ideal location is close to the markets and customers of Rwanda, as well as near raw materials. Length of transportation and climate are also crucial factors in determining locations for a facility. Plans to secure a land size of at least 2 ha are to occur within the next 2-3 months, with the goal of building facilities throughout the coming year, 2013.
Other discussions arise around the possibilities of producing not only fresh mushrooms, but dried mushrooms and mushroom powder. Dried mushrooms and powder present a quality market due to the long shelf-life and easy transportation that comes with production of these particular items. This also becomes another source of revenue for farmers within the mushroom market.
Demuynck also mentions that not only are oyster mushrooms a target for production, but other varieties of mushrooms, such as white-button mushrooms, should also be under consideration to expand the market in Rwanda.
A crucial topic underway are the sub-strate European models that will be used for production, that uses wheat-straw.
"Although wheat-straw is not seen as a quality item among farmers, it can be used to lower the retail prices of mushrooms significantly,” urges Demuynck.
"Mushrooms are a quality market that should be exploited,” said Minister Kalibata. The Minister has no trouble believing that mushrooms grown in Rwanda will be easily accepted in markets across borders, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kigali Farms hopes to host a launch day in mid-January, in which Rwandese people will be taught about the benefits of mushrooms, as well as how to cultivate and consume mushrooms in the home.
This project will open many doors for farmers to become out-growers, provide much-needed nutrient-rich food, as well as headway serious economic development within the agriculture sector.