This project aims to improve the diets of Ugandans, increase the income of Ugandan farmers and create a sustainable trade through training.These objectives will be achieved by providing farmers with a stable supply of high quality mushroom spawn, which will in turn improve the development and diversification of mushroom cultivation in Uganda.
Uganda is currently one of the poorest nations in the world. Ugandans living in the more rural areas of the country depend on farming as their main source of income, with major exports including coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton and corn. However, another crop presently not being cultivated in Uganda has the potential to enrich the diets of locals, provide farmers with extra income and help tackle environmental issues. Mushrooms are a highly nutritious crop rich in protein, essential amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, mineral and fibre. Mushroom cultivation requires less space than other crops and can take place near the home. Previous attempts to transfer mushroom cultivation technology to poorer countries have been unsuccessful, mainly because high tech methods using well-established mushroom strains cannot be transferred en-masse.
Heading the project is Dr Pradeep Malakar from the IFR, which is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Other partners in the project are the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Makerere University (Department of Botany), and the Mushroom and Resource Training Centre (MTRC), and, in China, the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Science (SAAS) and Guizhou Academy of Agricultural Science (GAAS). IFR and the Chinese consortium partners have developed strong links, especially in the area of food safety, with help from a BBSRC China Partnership Award to Dr Malakar. The new mushroom project is funded by Department for International Development (DFID) with support from China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce, and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa.
By the end of the project, it is anticipated that a secure supply of stable, reliable high quality spawn and registered spawn producers will provide an entirely integrated service to farmers for the development and diversification of mushroom cultivation in Uganda. This will improve diets of Ugandans, provide the income of local farmers and create a sustainable trade through training.