Mrs Mojirade Oluwadiya, a retired teacher is a successful mushroom farmer. But she didn’t start as a mushroom farmer. She was a poultry farmer.
After returning from Australia with her husband, she decided she was not going to teach again. She started growing mushroom as a hobby. Along the line, she decided it would be worth the while if she visited the United States and Israel to study how profitable mushroom farming could be.
To her surprise, she found out that mushroom farming is being done technologically. Farmers planted mushroom under air-conditioned environment. The infrastructure was there. The demand was high. The mushrooms have an excellent shelf life and required a month or more under refrigeration in paper bags, or cartons.
While it was profitable to do it that way using expensive technology, she knew instantly that Nigerians would not be able to afford it. Her search shifted to a third world country where the business can be done cheaply with affordable technologies.
Fortunately, she was told mushroom was a big business in Thailand, so she went on a fact finding mission.
There, she discovered that it was a simple business for small entrepreneurs to go into.
The cultivation model was simple and easy for small scale entrepreneurs. She also found out that with N10,000, one could start the business.
It was an approach many Nigerians could adopt and afford. There she found people growing mushroom using recycled materials and agric wastes. Satisfied with her discovery, she returned home and started using the Thai method, using agricultural waste and environmentally friendly recycled plastic bags for containers.
Mrs Oluwadiya learnt how to produce mushroom using drums, sprayer, tarpaulin, polythene sheets, polybags, and polypropylene bags, among others. The results have been outstanding.
Since then, she has been making huge profit by selling the products to leading supermarkets. She has since become the proud owner of a big mushroom farm with eight workers.
She is involved in the mushroom-cultivation business all year round and from the income, she is doing a lot of things. She is also starting other small businesses. She has motivated other farmers to start growing mushrooms.
Her message is that between 10,000 to N50, 000 is required for aspiring investors to start the business. Then it takes five weeks to harvest and that the farmer begins to make money.
For her, Nigeria is a good place for mushroom business as the climate is perfect for its cultivation and it can be grown all year round, creating employment, healthly livinig and wealth for the farmers.
The challenge however is that while it is doing well in many parts of country, people are shying away from the crop because they lack the materials and information they need.
Therefore, she is ready to offer Nigerians the best income-producing opportunity possible.
To her advantage, she has equipment to teach people.
She has been able to acquire the major infrastructure, build a lab and other equipment that one needs to produce spores, inoculations and everything to do with mushroom production.
Apart from this, she has developed an integrated agricultural business with edible mushroom cultivation, deep processing, sale, demonstration and training.
She sees the market expanding as companies can use the mushrooms to make beverages, soya and powder. She points to the value addition of diversifying by marketing mushrooms dried or pickled or as part of a food menu, especially for oyster mushrooms.
For her, investors don’t have to worry about the market for their produce, they just concentrate on production. There are distributors, who buy their mushrooms as wholesale and retail to individual consumers. For small scale farmers, she said the daily production from a 4×4 metre mushroom room can provide daily income for the five weeks of its harvesting span.
The secret to a better market for mushrooms lies in quality. The trick is in the product quality