In Summary

  • The farm has come up with mushroom boxes that have mycelium in them.
  • A consumer can buy the box and place it under appropriate weather conditions depending on the species of mushroom in it.
  • There are approximately 6000 organic farmers in Switzerland.
  • After maturity, which takes at most 14 days, mushrooms are harvested with scare to ensure that they survive longer out of the farm.

The white one-storied building could have passed for any other house. Yet on entering the compound, a beehive of activity confronts you as a man in his 30s rapidly doles out instructions.

The employees, numbering more than 20, are arranging bags of spawn in the various rooms, harvesting, sterilising the growing areas,

packaging and loading the final produce onto trucks for distribution.

Selling a tonne of mushrooms to retailers every day, Fine Funghi, as the enterprise is called, is one of the largest mushroom farms, in Tannerbergstrasse, Gossau on the outskirts of Zurich city, Switzerland.

The farm is co-owned by two farmers – Herr Romanens and Michael Manalle – the man we found supervising workers on an afternoon during our visit recently.

I was in Switzerland with eight other University of Nairobi students on an agricultural research tour.

Fine Funghi cultivates a wide variety of mushrooms that include Shiitake, King Oyster, Pleurotus and Button.

The farm packages its mushrooms in bags branded with the different retailers’ names and not their own company.

This is a business tactic we would later learn helps the company to remain in good terms with the biggest retailers because there is a lot of competition in the mushroom industry.

Until recently, mushrooms were not a big deal on Kenyans’ dining tables. They had always been the stuff the children stumble on and pluck from the soft ground during play. They would later bring them home to make themselves a juicy snack – roasted or fried.

MUSHROOM CULTIVATION

Nonetheless, a few farms have started to cultivate it in largescale but it has not grown so popular as to attract a vibrant business and a raging market of consumers.

Much of the mushroom cultivation that is also going on in Kenya is done inorganically with a lot of chemicals involved in the whole process.

In Switzerland, however, farmers have taken mushroom cultivation to higher commercial and dietary scales. The crop is mainly cultivated

Page 1 of 2