In 2009, UNAM partnered with the Southern African Network for Biosciences (SANBio) to promote mushroom production in Southern Africa. This partnership has been possible through the Finnish Southern Africa Partnership Programme to Strengthen NEPAD/SANBio Network (BioFISA) which is a tripod arrangement in which the Governments of Finland and South Africa jointly support biosciences-related initiatives for poverty alleviation in 12 Southern African nation states. The NEPAD/SANBio Mushroom Project, executed by the University of Namibia through the ZERI office, promotes research and developmental work on mushroom production and value addition in six countries--Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia. The change in the composition of participating countries was due partly to reorganization within NEPAD which aligned some of the original countries in new regional groupings.
Mushroom Cultivation in Poverty Alleviation
Mushroom farming is a simple cottage industry which does not require huge monetary investments or complicated technology. Almost all of southern Africa's farmers and peri-urban peoples are surrounded by agricultural and forestry residues. These are substrates or raw materials for mushroom farming. In a sense, these residues represent wealth at the doorstep of every farmer. Other than substrates, labor and water are available aplenty. Consumption of mushrooms in the Region is already popular; this is a ready market for the mushroom producer. What remains is for farmers to be made aware of their possibilities, supported, trained to produce mushrooms and linked to the markets. Nor are the farmers the only expected beneficiaries from mushroom farming.
Consumption of mushrooms would benefit the whole Southern African Region. All edible mushrooms are highly nutritious foods--high in dietary fibre, amounts of amino acids including all the essential amino acids, high in most vitamins and with practically no saturated fats. With these attributes, mushrooms are health foods which would improve the general wellbeing of the population. Indeed several edible mushrooms also have medicinal value. They are helpful in preventing or mitigating diabetes, hypertension and cancers. Some inedible mushrooms have medicinal value. In addition to the foregoing benefits list, these mushrooms have general immunity boosting capabilities. Their processed 'nutriceuticals', taken together with other medication (such as anti-retroviral drugs), could help alleviate many health problems, including HIV/AIDS.
The Mushroom Node's goal is to promote production, consumption and medicinal use of cultivable mushrooms in Namibia. Through awareness creation, mushroom farming and processing skills training, and research capacity building, the Project aims to put in place a viable holistic mushroom industry by 2015, which will have networks of farmers, processors and marketers of mushroom products within nation states and between southern African states.
Create awareness on mushroom cultivation technology and utilization
Promote mushroom production in communities through training, spawn production and linking farmers to markets
Create institutional capacity for research and extension on mushrooms in participating countries
Create better understanding of indigenous mushroom species with a potential for domestication and commercialization
Conserve genetic resources of cultivated mushroom species for public distribution and research within southern Africa
Demonstrate value addition of cultivated medicinal mushrooms through production of immunity-boosting mushroom neutriceutical
Contact Mushroom Node:
Ms Nailoke Pauline Kadhila-Muandingi (Coordinator)
340 Mandume Ndemufayo Ave
Telephone: +264 61 206 3458
Fax: +264 61 206 3929