Breaking new ground for mushrooms

2015-06-25 15:57


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Johannesburg - A North West University Masters student has cultivated oyster mushrooms, typically grown in subtropical regions, in the dry Mahikeng conditions with the leftover residue from crop harvests.

The university hails Sydwell Sihlangu's work, supervised by Dr Khosi Ramachela, as a leap forward in the innovative low-cost production of the mushrooms as a food security initiative.

"The town of Mafikeng [Mahikeng] is known for its harsh summer season with temperatures reaching 37°C, making the area arid and not suitable for many plant species and the kind of mushrooms Sydwell is harvesting. The oyster mushroom is one of the most important macro fungi producing high levels of quality protein for various agro-wastes," the university said.

However, the mushrooms were mainly cultivated in temperate and subtropical regions, none of which Mafikeng offered, thus making this a milestone for crop science and a major development in food security.

The university said the concept of using crop residues to grow mushrooms came from realising using non-conventional crop production with existing agricultural systems could improve the socio-economic status of small-scale farmers.

Sihlangu, who was born in Mpumalanga, intends to continue working in the agricultural sector with small-scale farmers to impart training and knowledge.

“I am especially proud, because it is a real breakthrough in terms of crop science. I plan to work even harder and create more recognition for small-scale farmers and the important role they play in the country’s economy,” Sihlangu said.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  education

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