Production of medicinal mushrooms
The University of Namibia’s Zero Emission Research Initiative (ZERI) is on schedule with the production of medicinal mushrooms at Ganoderma Technology Park, the first-ever facility focusing on the production of medicinal mushrooms in Africa.
According to ZERI coordinator, Pauline Kadhila-Muandingi, the first Ganoderma fruiting bodies have been harvested.
“Though not in large quantity, the production is expected to be more this year,” said Kadhila-Muandingi.
Some of the infrastructural facilities at the Ganoderma Technology Park has been completed and are ready for use.
Even though construction of some of the facilities have been completed, project activities and operations are picking up slowly, with equipment and quotations cited as the main delay in the development of the project.
“Not all the rooms are completed, except the fruiting room (the room where mushrooms are grown) the equipment room is still to be completed,”she said.
Farmers were also trained on medicinal mushroom cultivation as part of the project. “Training in the whole production system will only take place once everything is up and running,” Kadhila-Muandingi added.
Meanwhile, plans are in place to establish central places where all farmers can sell their products.
This is in addition to markets available to farmers trained on edible mushrooms – who already have access to markets at the level of their production.
“These are same markets they will use to sell the mushroom tea and capsules,” she said.
Once fully constructed and developed, the facility will have a research lab, fruiting house, drying and powderising rooms and a capsule making room.
It is envisaged that the production of medicinal mushrooms will benefit Namibia.
Dr Percy Chimwamurobe, former coordinator of ZERI, said that the medicinal mushrooms are already being used in fortifying vitamin formulations on Namibian markets.
However, the mushroom powder is being imported from Asia.
“With the technology park in place, it gives the Namibian population cheaper access to the medicinal mushrooms as these will be produced locally without any premium for importing,” he said.
ZERI has the mushroom project as it flagship programme where edible and medicinal mushrooms are developed. The initiative also deals with bio-gas production and agricultural projects with indigenous plants that need to be developed into mainstream cropping systems.
Nedbank and the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) are key partners of the initiative, with the youth and women being key stakeholders.
The park was constructed and developed at a budget cost of over N$2 million.