With the prevailing chronic poverty, droughts, and high demand of nutritious food across the globe, NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Bioscience (SANBio) Namibia Student Ambassador, Abner Tomas has come up with an innovative and frugal way to grow mushrooms with the aim to create income generating opportunities for unemployed youth in Namibia.
Tomas is a Master of Science in Food Microbiology graduate from the University of Namibia and founder of Ndaka Mushrooms and Processing CC. Currently, he has trained over ten unemployed youth from the northern, central and coastal areas to grow mushrooms in their backyard.
Tomas believes that what makes his method of farming so unique, is the utilization of camping tents to cultivate the mushrooms.
“Backyard mushroom farming is simple, fun and exciting. In fact, it has a potential to create self-employment opportunities, improve on food security, nutrition, health and well as well as utilize backyard spaces.”
Image 1: Ready packaged Oyster mushrooms
“Camping tents come in different shapes, sizes, and styles which gives you the power to control the climatic conditions and maintain the right environment within the grow tent for mushroom cultivation. Their fabric materials can withstand sever temperature changes and atmospheric conditions within or outside the grow tents, as well as resists ultraviolet rays. This gives you the power to control the climatic conditions and maintain the right environment within the grow tent for mushroom cultivation. It is these characteristics that make camping tents suitable for indoor gardening to grow crops like mushrooms in Namibian subtropical desert climate at low cost.”
Image 2: Oyster mushroom cultivation process in a tent
While the cultivation process might look easy, Tomas however warns that it should not be taken lightly.
“Mushrooms are very delicate, finding the right area to place your camping tents is crucial. This area must be far away from drainage pipes and leaky sewers to avoid contamination. Each species of mushroom has specific environmental requirements, therefore, you would require to design and modify the camping tent to the needs of the mushroom species you intend to grow,” he advised.
He further recommends for one to attend a mushroom cultivation training to prevent mushroom poisoning and save time by giving your mushrooms the adequate attention, nutrients, and elements needed for their growth.
Through his mushroom processing corporation, Tomas offers free mushroom cultivation daily to unemployed youth at the Ndaka Farmhouse in Onethindi, Oniipa, Oshikoto region, Namibia.
“Trainings are done through a 2-5-day period daily at my farmhouse or at a customized venue (depending on the customer needs) for community groups and private organisations."
Together with NEPAD SANBio, Tomas is raising awareness on the importance and potential of biosciences, promotes collaboration, networking, and knowledge exchange, as well as engaging with youth to create their income generating and self-employment opportunities through biosciences in Namibia.