Mushroom suppliers failing to satisfy demand in Mzuzu

Mzuzu,There is very low supply of mushroom inMzuzu City to satisfy the high demand as farmers are shunning the nutritious fungal labelling it as too laborious to produce, Malawi News Agency (MANA) has learnt.

Several visits at the city’s leading Fresh Foods Store, Mzuzu Shoprite and Mzuzu market have revealed that there is high stock out of mushroom due to high demand.

Mzuzu Shoprite’s Fresh Mark Manager, Peter Mtonga told Mana in an interview that the shop struggles to meet the demand of its customers because they (Shoprite) only have two suppliers for mushroom who do not even meet their target demand of 20 kilograms per week.

We have a market for mushroom in Mzuzu but the supply is low because there are very few capable producers to satisfy our demand. This negatively affects our business as intermittent supply of the commodity makes it impossible for us to readily provide the mushroom to our customers at the time they need it, he said.

Mtonga further stated that even though the store offers better prices to producers for the mushroom which is K1500 per kilogram, suppliers only manage to provide them with 10 Kilograms per week, which is just half of what is required.

The 10 kilograms last only for three days but we need stock for a week to satisfy the demand that we have, he said.

Presently, Tisange Cooperative Group from Luwinga in the city and University of Livingstonia are the only suppliers of mushroom to Shoprite as well as surrounding areas.

Acting Principal for University of Livingstonia- Lusangazi Campus, Dr Leonard Chibwe, said mushroom production requires greater concentration and adequate materials to be sustained.

Mushroom farming is profitable, we thrive because we harvest every four days. However, it requires a lot of effort, time and materials. For example, in a greenhouse, there should always be moisture and thermometer. It also requires that a farmer frequently visits the greenhouse to check progress, which calls for a lot of commitment, he said.

Dr Chibwe further explained that one of the reasons why mushroom production is challenging is because seedlings are scarce and not readily available in Northern Region.

Commenting on the issue, Mzuzu Agriculture Development Division (MZADD) Programme Manager, Wellington Phewa, concurred with Chibwe and added that being a perishable product, farmers need to be cautious when producing mushroom.

Since mushrooms are perishable, farmers would not take a risk to produce in high quantities before finding ready markets for them. However, if consumers will readily unveil themselves, I am sure they [producers] may scale up production since they will be sure of the market, he said.

Phewa also observed that most mushroom producers lack connections for possible markets, hence they stick to whatever little opportunities they know of.

However, the programme manager said MZADD was ready to support mushroom farming and therefore called on interested parties to visit his office if they need any expertise in relation to this type of farming.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA