Mushrooms and spirulina are health solutions

The Mushroom and Spirulina shop at the Masinde Muliro University [Photo: Courtesy World Pulse]
The Mushroom and Spirulina shop at the Masinde Muliro University [Photo: Courtesy World Pulse]
Mushrooms and spirulina may pass as shrubs that grow in the wild with no proper attention as man tender to crops that matter in Western Kenya – maize, millet and beans.

But unknown to many, the two are medicinal and have been used as a therapy for many decades in Africa.

“The two are a wonder of nature for health and sustainable livelihood that are yet to be discovered and utilized fully,” Professor Asenath Sigot, the principal researcher of the Mushroom and Spirulina Project at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology said.

Prof. Sigot revealed that she had a hypo-thyroid swelling and had undergone two major surgeries.

Fearing for a third surgery since the swelling had not completely healed as pain continued, she started eating mushrooms at whatever opportunity available.

To date, the swelling is no more and now she is completely out of danger and is already embarking on her retirement plans.

“I learnt of the wonder cure far too late and this is the reason why I have engaged vigorously in the research of the two plants,” she observed during the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology Mushroom Group (MMUSTMUG) official launch.

Prof. Sigot,who is the principal researcher of the Mushroom and Spirulina Project at the university said the research started on a small scale with Ksh 200,000 and has already been extended to farmers in various parts of Western Kenya.

“We started with Mushroom project at the university, where the research involved working with the women in the community to improve their family nutrition and as a means of income generation,” she said.

The research funded by Masinde Muliro University is an on-going project that employs participatory techniques, where members of the community are recruited, trained and supported to start their own mushroom and spirulina farms that yields to the required data for analysis.

The university is ensuring that maximum technology transfer is seen during the project period so that people may adapt the technology and apply it for ages to come.

Saumu Asman, the treasurer Vihiga Mushroom Growers Association said that they joined MMUSTMUG in 2003 as farmers of Oyster Mushrooms where they went through training by trainers from the ministry of agriculture on how to add value on mushrooms and export.

She said that mushroom farming is much more profitable than maize farming for its harvested three times a year and funds generated helps in paying school fees given the fact that 1kilogram of fresh mushroom is sold at Ksh 200 while 1 kilogram of dry mushroom sells at Ksh 1500.

Asman said that products from mushrooms like mushroom powder, gonadama mushroom and flour helps patients suffering from diabetes, ulcers and high blood pressure.

The Chairman Kenya Mushroom Growers Association, Francis Silingi said they have been working in collaboration with MMUST in this research project to exchange ideas.

He noted that they have a ready market in Ethiopia for their products like jam and tea and all their products are ‘gonadama’ blended which has high medicinal value.

Masinde Muliro University Vice Chancellor professor Fredrick Otieno applauded the launch of this project saying that its an opening to many more other research projects at the university.

“We are keen in engaging in many more research projects for this contribute immensely to sustainable development to the livelihood of the community adding that the university is committed to supporting innovation and commercialization of the products,” he added.

Mushroom has protein produced naturally, easily available and easily affordable and can be used as an alternative in learning institutions, especially boarding schools for feeding children at a low cost instead of beans and red meat.

“Mushroom is our tilapia and this project is an option if proper marketing and awareness creation is done for the institutions to buy the idea for the health of our school going children,” Minister for Education Kakamega County, Ebby Kavai said.

He revealed that mushroom and spirulina project is an income generation venture and the county government will support it for this will help create employment opportunities for the people, thus changing their livelihoods and beyond.

Plans are underway to distribute the products to the county’s health facilities. It is also helpful to people living with HIV Aids.

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