The substitute for beef and fish is increasingly on demand across the national territory.
Plant scientists are generally of the view that there are many edible wild plants but due to their non-domestication, the society is inhibited from consuming those edible plants and fails to get the nutritive content therein. Cultural values and individual perceptions have also taken people away from food sources which can cause the very persons to salivate. Amongst such food plants which Cameroonians were not hot about but have developed a new love for it, is mushroom; which was often considered as poisonous and deadly.
Despite its seasonal nature, many people want to have the ‘beef’ on their table all round the year, pushing a few passionate farmers to venture into mushroom farming. Yet, demand keeps soaring in major markets while the gradual steady increase in supply can’t satisfy the mushroom-happy mouths. Since mushroom production requires damn conditions, its production is usually retarded in between the months of November and March, but when the rains return fully as is the case now, the demand for mushroom even grows bigger.
Jomo Marie, a housewife in Yaounde has been scouting for fresh or even dry mushroom at the Mvogt-Betsi food market for the past 45 minutes to no avail. She was told by a petit trader that all the consignment which arrived in the market that day had been scrambled for before 8:30 am. Jomo left the market disappointed, hoping to return the following day very early in the morning in order to have a grasp of the delicacy. Before coming to the Mvogt-Betsi market, Jomo had been to the Acacia market but could not find the umbrella-shaped plant.
A similar deficit in the supply of mushroom can also be observed in other parts of the country as demand remains high. Though a kilogram of fresh mushroom costs FCFA 2,500 while the same quantity of dried mushroom costs as much as FCFA 12,500, the cost isn’t deterring consumers from the product. A passionate mushroom farmer in Bamenda, Kari Jackson Bongda says for 10 households, eight demand mushrooms mostly for medical reasons. Notwithstanding, he notes, many others consume mushroom for nutritional reasons and generally as a substitute for beef. Kari indicated that about 80% of households in the North West Region consume mushroom.
Going by officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, some 50 tonnes of mushroom are produced annually in the country, but shortage still persists. They indicate that even if the country produces some 100 tonnes per year, it will be readily consumed. The domestication of mushroom was introduced in the country in 1996 by a team of Chinese, and as at 2010, government had pumped in FCFA 40 million to boost the sector. Obala in the Centre Region remains a major production basin.
Le champignon en trois questions
Le champignon est cultivé à l'aide de matériaux comme les épis de maïs, la sciure, les cônes de palmier, etc. Et même avec des produits supplémentaires comme la farine de maïs, la coquille de riz, le son de soja, etc. Ces matériaux secs sont mélangés en quantités proportionnelles et plus tard amortis jusqu'à 67% d'eau. Les champignons s’arrosent légèrement et régulièrement. Ici, tout excès ou tout manque serait nuisible à une bonne production.
Les champignons se cultivent essentiellement dans des endroits fermés, aérés et humides. Afin d’améliorer leur croissance. La culture des champignons est donc très respectueuse de l'environnement. Des matériaux comme les épis de maïs, la sciure de poussière, les cônes de palme qui sont des déchets utilisés et réutilisés ou recyclés pour la culture des champignons. Les restes sont utilisés comme fumier ou compost.
Le champignon est principalement stocké sous forme sèche. L'énergie solaire est utilisée en séchage. Cela prend moins de six heures. On peut également préserver le champignon dans sa forme gelée. Toutes ces méthodes peuvent permettre au champignon de rester consommable pendant six mois.
Rassemblées par Josy Mauger
Kari Jackson Bongnda:The Mushroom Expert
The Founder of Community Sustainable Mushroom Farms (COSMUF) says the business is lucrative and he is currently smiling out of it.
Cultivating plants for food and breeding animals for milk and meat has existed from time immemorial. However, the type and variety has often been a source of astonishment. A Bamenda-based mushroom farmer and Founder of Community Sustainable Mushroom Farms (COSMUF), Kari Jackson Bongnda says mushroom cultivation is one of the agricultural ventures with least troubles. “I can proudly say with certainty that it is lucrative and I am currently smiling out of it,” the 33-year-old, who is a teacher by profession, attests, calling on others to join him in cultivating the plant which is now a delicacy. Don’t take Kari for granted. The Professional Masters of Science candidate in Biodiversity Conservation at the University of Bamenda owns Kari Sustainable Mushroom Farms (KASMUF) which produces over 40kg of fresh mushroom per month and 2,000 mushroom seeds monthly. The farm was barely opened last year. Kari told Cameroon Tribune that since 2008, he had a dream of venturing into sustainable agriculture for his livelihood and that of others in his community. “Growing from a humble background where I spent the whole of my leisure time on the farm with my grandmother while others were either playing football or busy watching movies in video clubs around the village, I lived with a going quest to make meaning out of agriculture,” Kari noted. We observed that Kari, alongside some 11youths trained by him, are already generating a lot of income from mushroom and they are comfortable with it.
According to the Executive Director of Sustainable Run for Development (SURUDEV), “youths should stop disregarding agriculture and term it a job for the very poor. Begin something in the agricultural field especially with mushroom and you will have a positive story to tell.”