Using mushroom production has helped Ghanaian farmers increase their incomes from less than a dollar a day to $2, $5, and more.
Perkins, OK (PRWEB) April 29, 2009
After more than a year of phone calls, emails, fund raising, and miracles, Bernard Bempah and Godwin Boakye from Ghana, West Africa, are in the US learning how to grow shiitake mushrooms, through Mushrooms in Ghana Project (http://www.mushroomsinghana.org). The men have taught many of Ghana's 6,000-7,000 mushroom farmers, most of them women, to grow oyster mushrooms on bags of composted sawdust at their NGO non-traditional agricultural training centre, Bemcom Youth Enterprises/Association. (http://www.bemcom.org Bemcom)
Mushroom training is the primary emphasis in a full program of lucrative small-farm entrepreneurial enterprises including beekeeping, snail rearing, and small livestock production. Bemcom has won awards, recognition, and honors, including the Commonwealth Youth Service Award, during its more than 12 years of training Ghanaian farmers.
According to Bemcom Founder and Director Bempah, "Using mushroom production has helped Ghanaian farmers increase their incomes from less than a dollar a day to $2, $5, and more."
The next step is diversify mushroom production with protein-rich shiitake mushrooms.
'This project will change the mushroom industry in Ghana,' Bempah said. 'Adding shiitakes will increase the financial stability of the farmers and increase the nutritional intake of the people who eat the mushrooms.' Shiitakes are the second most-consumed mushroom worldwide. They strengthen the immune system and are used to fight cancer and other conditions.
The trip is sponsored by Mushrooms in Ghana Project, a humanitarian effort of Lost Creek Mushroom Farm, in Perkins, Oklahoma, and The Magical Child Foundation. The Ghanaians received hands-on training in shiitake production at Lost Creek Mushroom Farm and are touring mushroom operations in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. Their trip includes presentations at universities in Oklahoma and Missouri and will end in New York with a presentation to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in May.
The project, brainchild of Douglass and Dr. Sandra Williams of Lost Creek Mushroom Farm, was born as a result of their volunteer assignment with USAID FarmServ Program in 2007 through Opportunities Industrialization Centers, International (OICI).
'We went to help Bemcom reduce contamination and to teach the basics of growing shiitakes on hardwood logs,' Dr. Sandra explained. 'We realized that no amount of talking theory and showing pictures could build the skills and understanding of handling logs, seeing production phases, and talking with experienced growers.'
'Getting Bernard and Godwin here was the first part of this project,' Dr. Sandra said. 'The second part is to provide laboratory equipment so that Bemcom can produce its own spawn (mushroom seed) for oyster and shiitake mushrooms.'
Currently there is one registered source of spawn in Ghana, the Food Research Institute in Accra. 'Mushroom farmers are meeting about 10% of the demand,' Bempah said. 'If Bemcom provides an additional source of spawn, the mushroom industry can expand toward meeting consumer and restaurant needs.'
Bempah, who trained in spawn production in Seoule, South Korea, will receive additional training at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University under Dr. Omon S. Isikhuemhen (Dr. Omon), Asst. Professor of Mushroom Biology and Biotechnology.
With visits to ten different mushroom operations, Bempah and Boakye have seen a variety of production methods, tools, and equipment. 'The people we have met in the US have been God's blessing. They have been very generous in sharing their knowledge and their hospitality,' Boakye said.
'On this trip so far,' Bempah added, 'our experiences have increased our passion for mushrooms and the interest we have in promoting mushrooms in Ghana.'
Mushrooms in Ghana Project is seeking funding for equipment or donations of equipment for Bemcom's spawn production and training facilities. Contributions to the Magical Child Foundation for Mushrooms in Ghana Project are tax deductible. Contributions can be made online at http://www.mushroomsinghana.org, by calling 800-792-0053, or by mail to Mushrooms in Ghana Project, PO Box 520, Perkins, OK 74059. For more information, phone 405-612-6814 or email mushroomsinghana(at)yahoo.com. Details of their trip will be included in the blog on the Mushrooms in Ghana website.