Nothing beats Mushroom

Despite its great potential to generate income and to improve nutrition for 25 million of Ghanaian people, the mushroom industry in Ghana is characterized by low productivity, inefficient supply chains and, above all, difficult access to finance.

Through the Ghana Mushroom partnership, IFDC is promoting the use of innovative technologies and practices, resulting in improved mushroom quality and productivity. Regarding access to finance we asked the Ghanaian mushroom growers and exporters association (MUGREAG) to mention five good reasons for investing in their business.

How is the market developing and what would be the top-five reasons for investing in this industry?

Rev Quartey, President of MUGREAG: Well, we can give more than 10 rock-solid reasons why banks should be with us. First of all, the mushroom demand is hugely unmet, it is growing very rapidly and appears to be one of the markets most worth investing in. Most Ghanaians are now showing interest in this appealing product. Some years back, the Ghanaian community had some notion that mushroom grown in the house were not good. Believing they had chemicals on them the consumers feared being poisoned. Now, because of Ebola, a lot people are no longer eating meat from the bush and this has  boosted the mushroom market. Hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and a growing number of  individuals are buying our mushrooms. So, our market continues to expand…

Madam Pamela : The international markets are also relevant. We are getting orders from Brazil, Serbia and other European countries, from both food and pharmaceutical industries. Mushroom is known to be a very good antivirus, and it contains multiple vitamins that strengthen the immunity system and helps us live longer.

Rev Quartey: The Ghana School feeding project is also there, and no one has gone there for the moment. It is a big market opportunity for mushrooms.

Georges Ablay : Mushroom is a short period product. We start the harvest within 1-2 weeks and recover our investment in a short timeframe. If you invest GHs12,000 you earn up to GHs15,000 as a net profit, within a 4 cycle period.  The great thing about mushrooms is that you can grow it everywhere!  In your backyard, in your kitchen, in your salon and even in your bedroom. Moreover, a bank will not have to wait long to recover its money. Any investment can be recouped within 2 weeks. As a grower, I will not come and tell the bank: “Well listen, it did not rain” because you do not need rain to grow mushroom. I will not come to the bank and say “Well, listen, my harvest was fired up because the place we grow mushroom are cool places. Fire does not like a cool place. Risk are very minimal…For all these reasons, Banks should be with us.”

Mushroom (4)

What are the challenges?

Rev Quartey: The monthly demand of 40 tons is a challenge for us. To meet this, we need to introduce modern technology to control humidity and temperature to keep the consistency of production and sustain the industry. We need about 1000 growers producing 6000 bags continually to be able to enter the international market.

As you see the main constraint is money. I mean soft term loans to support the business plan 2SCALE is helping us to develop. As we told, we don’t depend on weather. All we need is a modern structure and technology such as a humidification system, to make production consistent all year round. We need 2000 dollars per farmer, for a total of 1000 farmers. We can pay between 1 to 2 percent a month and we can reimburse in less than a year.

Honestly, is 2SCALE adding any value in addressing these challenges?

Evan Kekah : Our association was established 20 years ago but it collapsed. With support from IFDC and 2SCALE it is gradually being revived as we are coming together to address our challenges in a value chain strategy.  We were working individually, but now, we understand that no one can make it alone. There is now some synergy and healthy competition among us…

Two years ago we used to produce 40 to 56 tons per year. Now, we are producing 748 tons per year! Seriously, we gained a lot in terms of skills. We have been exposed and learned a lot. The most important is synergy. With 2SCALE we understand that 1 plus 1 is not 2, but 3. We know now that we do not need to worry about the market… As a cropper, we just focus on production. Marketing is the job of those who are specialized in marketing. We have been trained in good agronomic practices. We are now producing under higher hygienic conditions and at the market place we beat our local competitors…

Madam Pamela : The training also gave us the idea to focus on the business and strategy to expand. We learned how to keep record of and to add value to what we are doing. We also realized that we were producing under capacity. In the 2SCALE program we went through a productivity assessment of the industry. We realized that efficiency is a key for the business. Some of us were producing very little from the same space while they could do more and increase our profit. We have been able to establish the input supply system, thus reducing cost of production.

Rev Quartey : Farmers have been taught how to develop both common and individual business plans. We were challenged how to properly market our products. Very soon, we are going to have training on access to finance.

We learned a lot in terms of business aspect of farming. Now, we believe that we can address the demand of the export market and mobilize 4000 tons of dry mushroom. This is what we need to achieve before exporting. Currently, we are producing 758 tons per year and that is not enough even for local market. But mushroom farmers could do more. Ghanaians love mushroom, but they are only getting it seasonally. We can build up a sector that provides both jobs and food for Ghanaians. What else would we want?

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