Software engineer leads the way with mushrooms

Saturday August 13 2016

Kevin Kibuka who practices mushrooms farming.

Kevin Kibuka who practices mushrooms farming. PHOTO | PETER CHANGTOEK | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PETER CHANGTOEK
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He graduated from Kenyatta University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Software Engineering. But instead of writing codes, Kevin Kibuka, 26, is busy getting his hands dirty.

Farming is an innate desire and he has no choice but to divide his time between the job he studied for and the passion.

At Kahawa in Nairobi, Kibuka tells us more about himself and the mushroom farming he has established.

“I am not a full time mushroom farmer. I also do software development, but farming is what I enjoy more,” says Kibuka.

“I opted for mushrooms as it is not a common crop, hence the market is available and the returns are way better than other crops.

Armed with a capital of Sh100,000, he ventured into button mushroom farming in September 2015, after seeking training from a man who had grown mushrooms for four years.

He explains to Seeds of Gold, some of the processes that go into mushroom farming.

First you prepare substrate.

Some packaged mushrooms.

Some packaged mushrooms. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

This involves mixing chicken manure, molasses, sunflower, urea, gypsum and lime. After that, he says, the substrate is pasteurised.

Spawning follows pasteurisation. It is a process which involves putting spawn in the ready substrate. Packaging is the next step and then storage, which involves putting in dark cool room.

This is followed by colonisation (spreading seeds in the bags).

“When this is done, level the top of the bag and add virgin soil that has been treated. Now you can wait for them to mature,’’ he says.

CHALLENGES

Kibuka carries out all these in a thatched house, measuring 12ft by 18ft, next to where he lives.

Although the venture is lucrative and has the potential to change one’s fortunes, it has some challenges that one has to deal with.

These include diseases which affect the crop and the yields. “Green and white mould is the most common disease,’’ he reveals.

He adds that another challenge is that it is a capital intensive venture. Kibuka also says that at times, it is hard to find the spawn.

Despite the many hurdles, he has never regretted venturing into the business.

“I have no regrets at all. I wish I had started earlier,’’ he says. The farmer says that one ought to harvest the mushrooms daily or at a period not beyond 36 hours.

However, the quantity of the yields depends on the number of packaging bags used.

For him, he harvests between 20kg and 40kg per week and sells a kilo at a price ranging from of Sh600 to Sh1,000.

He hopes to do value addition in future. “My plan is to start packaging and exporting mushrooms and sell them in powder form.”

Besides several private farms, farmers can get spawn from Egerton University, Biological Sciences Department.