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How I burnt my fingers thrice growing mushrooms


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Sometime in 2016, Julius attended an agriculture seminar where mushroom was one of the topics and he was impressed by the profits bandied about. This inspired him to get into the business but things did not work out as expected. The Ugandan recounts to Mkulima Young how he burnt his fingers thrice while growing the crop


Farming is tough and is not for the faint-hearted. I say this from hindsight because I have tried growing mushrooms and failed thrice.

I started in 2016 after being inspired to get into mushroom production during a seminar where the returns showcased were too juicy to resist. 

I began by buying ready gardens and was very optimistic about the entire project. All my gardens were successful but the harvest was so tiny than what I had been promised.

I was unhappy but I did not give up, I went back to growing mushrooms some six months later, this time involving a lady who had much experience in growing the crop. She also sold me spawns.

Out of the 47 gardens of mushrooms that we made, only five survived, which means the harvest was too small.

Down the drain the project again went with my USh300,000 investment, but since I had a steady job, I did not mind much.

I remained hopeful because I was reading stories of people who were doing well in the business. I once again choose to try growing the crop for the third time.

But this time round, mushrooms were all my hope because I had no steady job. So I used my savings and borrowed some more from a brother.

We once again made the substrate – the growing media for mushrooms – and bought the spawns – seedlings. The two are very key in mushroom growth and I did not want to anything to go wrong.

But as fate would have it, things were not any different. From my harvest, I could not even fetch enough to repay the loan. I gave up.

People always ask me why did you fail? But I don’t know because I did everything right and worked with experts who I paid for their ‘special’ advice.

Trust me, when crops fail, these experts will always have excuses, saying, “You did not do this or that right”, yet they were holding your hand in the journey.

One of the things that let me down was that my crops were infected by diseases, then spawn quality was not good and fluctuation in temperatures also messed me up.

I have visited other farms and learnt that many are actually not doing as good as they claim. Some people are only interested in selling the spawns and getting people to pay for the seminars, some which are donor-funded.

Would I advise someone to invest in mushrooms or any other crop? The correct advice I would tell them is that they should prepare for a string of losses before they realize those golden profits.

In the meantime, I am repaying the debts I incurred when I was starting the business and I am hopeful of clearing them all soon. If it is ever to go back to agribusiness, I would be a middleman, because at this stage of the value chain there are less risks.


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... Mkulima Young Team

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