How economic viability of mushrooms cultivation can promote poverty reduction in Nigeria

Mushroom is an important vegetable which usually grows in the forest with its nutritive and medicinal value. It can also be cultivated domestically in a small scale by landless people. The climate of Nigeria is highly favourable for high volume of mushroom production. The cultivation of mushroom is one of the most lucrative agricultural job. In our study the profitability of mushroom cultivation was found comparatively higher than that of cassava,rice,and cotton,the most popular cash earning crops in Nigeria. As funding to promote the production and consumption of mushrooms is limited, local governments and NGOs can play vital role to develop mushroom agriculture to arise at industrial level which can create ample employment opportunities both in semi-urban and rural areas. This suggests that the potential of mushroom cultivation could be a possible offer to alleviate poverty and develop the life style of the vulnerable people in Nigeria.

Nigeria is an agriculture and petroleum based developing country and about 63% of the population is directly or indirectly engaged in a wide range of agricultural activities. With a Population of about 160 million, she is suffering from protein malnutrition with high proportion of poverty. According to recent estimates, 65 percentof the population lives under the poverty line. The Population of Nigeria may increase from 160million in 2014 to 210million in 2025 and annual growth rate is 4.7 percent. Reduced income coupled with increased expenditure on healthcare in a country already facing stiff economic challenges has worsened the poverty situation. Due to the frequency of human induced calamities and livestock diseases in this part of the world as well as the high cost of conventional agricultural production, the people of Nigeria are anxious to develop an alternative source of protein with a high potential of income generation. In this situation mushroom cultivation could be the potential offer of solution to poverty reduction. Although knowledge and production level are still limited in Nigeria, yet mushroom has focused much interest in the past few years. One might say that the different NGO’s and farms have literally cultivated mushrooms here recently. It is hoped that the new hot industry of mushroom cultivation in Nigeria will soon provide an important tool for income generation and the creation of food security for thousands of households. Unlike other agronomic crops, the set-up, costs-benefits and space for mushroom cultivation are recommendable. Fertilizers, machinery and pesticides are not much used, the market price is relatively high and profit margins for mushroom crops can be considerably higher than traditional crops. In general the project takes very little space and can produce returns within a short period of time.  Nigeria farmers who are using local varieties of seed can grow cassava and maize crops that take an average of seven months to reach harvest maturity. This time period is equivalent to at least three cycles of mushrooms cultivation. Considering this scenario, the relative profitability of these three crops can be compared even the input costs of mushrooms enterprise were to be doubled and would still remain more profitable than that of either cassava,maize or rice . Therefore, potential mushrooms cultivation may play an active role to employment generation and thus alleviate poverty. The main objective of this report is to focus on the alternative job opportunities which could be potential income source as well as to prove the economic viability of mushroom cultivation and how it will aid and promote poverty alleviation in Nigeria. Mushroom is any of various fleshy fungi, characteristically having an umbrella-shaped cap borne on a stalk grows usually in the forest. ‘Mushroom’ is not in a taxonomic category. The term ‘mushroom’ is ‘a macro-fungus with a distinctive fruiting body, which can be either hypogeous or epigeous, large enough to be seen with the naked eye and to be picked by hand’. From a biological taxonomic point of view, mainly basidiomycetes but also some species of mushrooms belong to ascomycetes. The number of mushroom species on the earth is estimated to be 140,000 and only 10% are known. The proportion of useful mushrooms among the undiscovered and unexamined mushrooms may be 5%, which can be of possible benefit to mankind.

Important factors of mushroom cultivation

Spawn: The spawn of mushroom is like seed is to crop. Unlike spore, spawn is already at its mycelia stage growing on its own substrate such as sawdust. The life cycle of mushroom starts from spores, but growers inoculate mycelial origin spawn rather than spore origin spawn because of possible variations and mutations. The quality of spawn is one of the most critical factors for successful crop. Therefore, growers need to use qualified spawn for commercial production. Spawn maintains the strain characteristics and is propagated by subcultures. The various types of mushroom spawn include grain, sawdust, plug and liquid. Substrate: Mushrooms can be classified into 3 categories by their tropic pattern; saprophytes, parasites or mycorrhizae. The most commonly grown mushrooms are saprophytes, decomposers in an ecosystem growing on organic matters like wood, leaves and straw in nature. Raw materials can be used as substrate for primary decomposers such as oyster mushroom which have lignocellulosic enzymes. On the other hand, secondary decomposers like button mushroom or straw mushroom require substrate degraded by bacteria or other fungi. Mushroom requires carbon, nitrogen and inorganic compounds as its nutritional sources and the main nutrients are carbon sources such as cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Thus, most organic matters containing cellulose, hemicellulose or lignin can be used as mushroom substrate. Examples are cotton, cottonseed hull, corncob, sugarcane waste, sawdust, and so on. However, demanded amount of each nutritional source differs according to mushroom species. For example, oyster mushroom and shiitake require less nitrogen and more carbon source but button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) requires relatively high nitrogen source. Mushroom mycelia secrete digestive enzymes into the substrate and absorb the dissolved nutrients. Cellulose, the main nutritional source of mushroom is one of the most abundant organic matters on earth, but its digestive enzyme, cellulase is owned by several micro-organisms including fungi. Mushroom is also influenced by acidity of substrate. The optimal pH value of substrate ranges from 6 to 8, varying with mushroom species. Environment The last important factor for mushroom growing is providing an appropriate environment both for vegetative and reproductive growth. Not being protected by a skin layer, fungi are easily affected by their growing conditions. So it can be said that the success or failure of mushroom cultivation depends on the control of growing conditions. Environmental factors affecting mushroom cultivation include temperature, humidity, light and ventilation. Optimal levels of them at vegetative stage differ from those at reproductive stage. Mushroom mycelia can survive between 5 and 40 oC depending on the species. Mushroom mycelia grow well with the temperature range between 20 and 30oC. Substrate moisture content should be 60-75% and log moisture content, 35-45%. During fruiting, different relative humidity levels, ranging from 80-95%, are needed at the early, mid and latter stage. Though mycelia like darkness to grow but some species require light for fruiting body formation. Being aerobic fungi, mushrooms need fresh air during growing and ventilation is more required for reproductive stage. Among the three factors, the most important is environmental control. By maintaining optimal conditions at each growing stage and for each species, growers can produce the desired yield of quality mushrooms. Mushroom cultivation method in Nigeria There are many methods of mushroom cultivation but bag cultivation, bottle cultivation, log cultivation and shelf cultivation are usually common. Rice straw, wheat straw, sugarcane waste, banana leaves, grass and sawdust are the major fibrous residues important for mushroom cultivation substrates. The pasteurized substrate is usually spawned and packed into polythene bags of about 30cm wide and 60~90cm long for the bag culture of the oyster mushroom. The growing rooms are maintained at between 18 oC ~ 25 oC, with a relative humidity of about 75%. Although up to 6 flushes may be obtained from each bag, the first three are the most important in commercial production. For every 10kg of dry substrate used, as much as 20kg of mushroom can be harvested from the first 3~4 flushes. At least 2~3kg are usually harvested per bag. During the rainy season, Pleurotus ostreatus is cultivated while the more heat tolerant P. sajor-caju is produced in the dry season. The button mushroom, most often grown by well-financed growers, is the main export mushroom. For button mushroom cultivation, wheat straw and cow manure are mixed and used as substrate. Some farmers add inorganic fertilizers and/or peat. Cultivation is carried out in trays. Lower temperatures of about 18 oC need to be maintained and diseases and pests must be closely monitored. The expenses and requirements for strict management of the growing room have restricted the number of newcomers going into button mushroom production.   Data collection Research methods were used as structured interviews of 60 households focused especially on experiences and actual costs and benefits of mushroom and cassava cultivation. Focus group discussion (FGD) and observation were also carried out in order to determine the motivation and capacities of both cultivation practices. Other data were gathered by way of interviews with key informants (Government, non-government, public organizations, books and daily newspaper) and market prospecting. The secondary data were used from statistical yearbooks, local administrative and various related sources. For many elements of the study (cultivation practices, actual cost and benefit etc.), semi-quantitative analysis was carried out for mushroom and other crops (cassava, maize and rice) cultivation at the household level. The economic analysis of mushroom production was calculated. The production cost of first and second round was N92,400.00 (including house cost) and N61,600.00 (excluding house cost), respectively. Average net profit of first and second round was measured at N757,6000 and N788,400, respectively. After four months, average net profit was N1,546,000 where total investment was N92,400.00 because the income earned from first round can be used to cultivate second round (Table 1). The profitability of cassava, rice, and mushroom was also evaluated and found that mushroom cultivation is the lucrative one. We considered one acre of land for cassava and rice  cultivation, and ’30×18′ in size growing house for mushroom cultivation. After four months, the net income for cassava and rice were N1,174,000.00 and N1,358,000.00 where total cost were N1,226,000.00 and N742,000, respectively. Within the same time the cost and benefit of mushroom was N1,540,000 and N1,020,600  respectively. Interestingly within this four months period mushroom was cultivated two times where average production cost and benefit was N92,400.00  and N850,000  for the first round (costs including house), and N61,600.00 and N788400  for the second round (costs excluding house), respectively (Table 1 and 2). The relative profitability of these three crops can be focused as the mushroom cultivation is more profitable. In Zimbabwe farmers have benefited more by growing mushroom than maize and wheat. The net income of mushroom, maize and wheat are ZWD 1703000.00, ZWD 518500.00 and ZWD 1140000.00, respectively (MushWorld, 2004). This result is quite similar to our findings. To the aim of poverty reduction in Nigeria, mushroom cultivation could be potential job. Because Nigeria is located in a tropical monsoon climate which is ideally considered for high elevation of mushroom production. Mushroom cultivation can be popular to income generation among the women in Nigeria because of its suitability to their works and life style. As they are especially responsible for household works and taking care of their children, thus they can easily accommodate their time for mushroom cultivation. This product is highly nutritious and a good food for their children and the older as well. They also obtain some money from this product because of its high economic value. They can utilize the agricultural waste, and thus mushroom cultivation can improve the life of many poor families in Nigeria. Cultivation of mushrooms is labor intensive for the countries where jobs are rare. In fact, some technologies can use family labour thus providing employment for all of the family members. Unfortunately, funding to promote the production and consumption of mushrooms is limited in Nigeria. But the potential of mushroom cultivation to poverty reduction among the vulnerable groups like women are especially encouraged. In this context, an assistance of the local government is important for the development of mushroom industry which can create job opportunities both in semi-urban and rural areas. Here we assumed a project on how farmers will pay their loan. Our findings indicate that the growing set-up, costs-benefits and space for mushroom cultivation are recommendable as well as pay back of loan is easier than other crops. According to estimate of Table 3, the loan N20,000 with interest will be fully paid after four months which is difficult for other crops. In the estimated project, one mushroom grower can produce about 5~6 crop cycles, 3 tons per year on average. Therefore, he can earn N800,250 ~ N1,358,900 (USD 4763.39 ~ 8088.69) per yea   Table 1. Economic analysis of mushroom production (USD 1= N167)

Item Quantity Cost in Naira (N) Cost in USD ($)
Straw for 200 bags 800 kg (4 kg/bag)   8,000.00   48.00
Spawn (250g/bottle) 100 bottles (N250/bottle) 25,000.00 150.00
Plastic bags large and small in size   3,000.00   18.00
Chemicals   5,000.00   30.00
Labour(30 days)  N500/day 15,000.00   90.00
Miscellaneous 10% of total cost   8,400.00   50.00
House 30 feet × 18 feet 28,000.00 167.00
Total Production Cost (1st round*, with house cost) 92,400.00 550.00
Total Production Cost (2nd round, without house cost) 61,600.00 367.00
Total Income (each round) (Total Prod. x Price) 680,000.00-1,020,000.00 4048.00-6071.00
Net Profit (1st round)  (Total Income-Total Cost) 587,600.00-927,600.00 3499.00-5521.00
Net Profit (2nd round) (Total Income-Total Cost) 618,400.00-958,400.00 3681.00-5705.00
Average Net Profit/4 months 1,546,000 9202.00

Production cost in Naira is calculated based on the highest round figure of money, *Each round takes 2 months, one month for growing and another month for harvest. Total Production: 400-600 kg/2 months (2-3 kg/bag). Price: N1700/kg Table 2. Compared profitability of Cassava, Rice and Oyster mushroom in Nigeria

Item Cassava (N) Rice (N) Oyster Mushroom(N)
Expected yield/ 4 months 40 ton /acre 2.4 ton /acre 1 ton (500 kg/2months)
Average income 2,400,000.00 2,100,000.00 1,700,000.00
Total costs 1,226,000.00    742,000    154,000.00
Net income 1,174,000.00 1,358,000.00 1,546,000
Labour (N500/day) 400,000.00 300,000.00   (Production cost is                                                                                                                                                                     shown in Table 1)
Land preparation 300,000.00 250,000.00
Seed (Cassava 100 and Rice 30 kg) 200,000.00 100,000.00
Fertilizer/Lime 100,000.00    16,000.00
Insecticides 50,000.00    13,200.00
Transport 46,000.00    27,000.00
Irrigation 30,000.00    23,200.00
Miscellaneous 100,000.00    12,600.00

Compared profitability of Cassava, rice (1 acre land/4 months) and oyster mushroom (30′ × 18′ size house/4 months) is considered in Naira Table 3. Financial aspect of the project for mushroom cultivation (USD1= N167)

Total amount of loan N1,223,040 $7280.00
1. Total cost
– Growing house (made up of local materials, wooden shelves) N28,000.00 $ 167.00
-Production cost N61,600.00 $367.00
2. Estimated income per 2 month (average)
-Total production per 2 month 500 kg (total production – loss during handling, storage and delivery) 500 kg(excluding damage)
-Net sales per 2 month (total production × price per kg) N850,000.00(500 kg × N1700) $ 5059.00
3. Pay back of loan (for 4 months)
-Collection per 2 month to pay back loan (33.34% of income) N850,000 N283,333.00(N850,000/3) $1687.00
If 35~40% of 2nd round’s income is collected the loan and interest will be fully paid back for 4 months

Table 4. Constituents of shiitake mushroom (Oak) and other food sources (*Dry, **Fresh).

Food source Energy (Kcal) Protein  (g) Fat(g)       Carbo (mg)     Minerals(mg)          Vitamins(mg
sugar fiber Ca Fe B1 B2 B3
Shiitake* 272 18.1 3.1 57 6.7 19 3.3 0.48 1.57 19
Shiitake** 27 2 0.3 5.4 0.7 0.7 0.6 0.08 0.23 4.0
Chicken 180 19.0 10.6 0.1 11 1.1 0.20 0.21 2.7
Beef 224 17.5 15.9 0.2 15 1.6 0.07 0.23 4.3
Potato 66 2.5 14.4 0.2 04 0.6 0.20 0.06 1.0
Rice 350 7.6 2.1 74.4 2.7 06 0.7 0.23 0.008 3.6
Wheat 328 12 2.9 69 2.5 71 3.2 0.34 0.11 5.0

Source: Mushroom growers handbook-2, MushWorld 2005 (table is modified) 100g edible portion of dried/fresh shiitake mushroom and same amount of other food sources.


6 thoughts on “How economic viability of mushrooms cultivation can promote poverty reduction in Nigeria

  1. davidenoma May 25, 2015 / 11:25 pm

    Greetings to you, please I wanted to find out if you reside in Nigeria and if yes, do you know of any possible buyers of the cultivated mushrooms? Mushroom cultivation is a realizable and profitable venture but my problem is the lack of awareness of the general public on the health benefits and delicacies of these wild edible mushrooms. I would be glad is you have any information on prospective hotels, supermarkets or restaurants in Nigeria that are interested in edible mushrooms.
    Thank you.


    • Charles Geofrey October 27, 2015 / 5:28 am

      Greetings to you davidenoma,
      I am here in Portharcourt, River state Nigeria.
      The lack of awareness of the general public on the health benefits and
      delicacies of the edible mushrooms is as a result of low advertising from the
      media. In Nigeria, the commercial production and trade in mushroom is still at its infancy.
      This state can be attributed to the poor and undeveloped nature of demand for edible, local and
      cultivated exotic mushrooms.
      To further develop the industry and to improve local demand, there exists, inter alia,
      a need to ensure a reasonable balance between the prices the consumers are willing to pay and the
      prices that the producers are prepared to sell the commodity. This is especially so, in the face
      of other competing protein sources including beef meat
      As such, awareness needs to be created, stressing the advantages and other beneficial qualities of its consumption.
      Such information can be provided (as for the current, daily poultry eggs consumption drive in Nigeria) through
      sponsored radio jingles and television advertisements, billboards, and distribution of food and nutrition leaflets,
      posters and stickers. This is more so, since majority of the consumers are educated.



  2. Micheal Badejo August 3, 2015 / 9:49 am

    i would like to be part of the production process, Please kindly send your address, phone number and other address needed to contact with you. however, do you have an office in Lagos or Ibadan for a quick contact. thanks, M.G Badejo. 08023027181


    • Charles Geofrey October 27, 2015 / 4:20 am

      Hello Micheal Badejo, to part of the production process,you need 3 things.
      1- Passion for this venture
      2- Comprehensive training, we offer this course at our farm for 5wks at 45k.
      3- Finance to set it up and make 300%-500% every month.

      When you are ready email me here- promotenews at yahoo dot com



  3. onu samuel sule March 19, 2016 / 8:45 pm

    Pls direct me how to be trained as mushroom producer. I am a retired civil servant from benue state civil service.


    • Charles Geofrey March 30, 2016 / 1:00 pm

      My dear onu samuel sule, Thank you very much for your interest for mushroom farming.
      Giving the nature of this enterprise, this is one the best 21st century agric venture to undertake as a retiree.
      Mushroom cultivation takes about six to seven weeks from composting to harvesting.
      However, we offer comprehensive five weeks training course in our farm here in Portharcourt for 45k.
      Here we teach you everything from spawn making, substrate treatment and application to cropping,
      harvesting and processing for the market.
      Make your decision and call/sms me here 0 8 0 3 9 2 7 4 1 7 5. Email-

      Kindly treat as imperative.

      Thank you,


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