ECONOMIC POTENTIAL: DIVERSIFIED AGRICULTURE MUSHROOM CROP

 

The driving force behind this or any Diversified Agriculture Program needs to be economic motivation. With the implementation of this project, the economic return of a typical farm operation in Ghana will be increased by many orders of magnitude with very little additional input of time or money by the farmer. Let’s look at a typical farming situation in Ghana, such as the production of Sorghum as an example:

 

Over a four month crop cycle, the average cereal crop yield for Ghana is 1457 kg per hectare.1 The current value of sorghum in Accra at wholesale price is 65 pesewas per kg.2 This makes the value of the primary sorghum crop approx. GH Cidis 947 per hectare.

 

This figure of nearly 1500 kgs harvested represents only about 10 % of the total biomass grown on the hectare during that four month crop period. The remaining 90% of biomass amounts to approximately 13,113 kg of usable cellulosic materials that are currently considered waste and are not being utilized. This is the dry weight of straw, stems, roots and tops after harvesting the sorghum. This is the raw material input (substrate) upon which the mushrooms are grown When fugally bio-converted from the original dry substrate to fresh mushrooms, a crop yield factor of 1.4 x dry weight of substrate is a reasonable figure to expect when using high yielding hybridized strains of oyster mushrooms. This means from 13,113 kgs agricultural waste we can derive approx. 18,350 kgs of fresh mushrooms. (data shown in attached scientific report titled Simplified and Lower Cost Methods for Mushroom Cultivation in Africa)

 

The Current wholesale price for fresh mushrooms in Accra is approximately 1 GH Cidi per kg.2 This means the secondary crop grown from the previously unused agricultural waste is valued at Gh Cidi 18,350.

Primary Crop Value (sorghum) = 974 Cidi
Secondary Crop Value (mushrooms) = 18,350 Cidi

 

The secondary crop derived from the waste product is worth nearly TWENTY times the value of the primary crop. On top of this, where the primary crop required 4 months to produce, the secondary crop of mushrooms starts yielding income at 21 days, and the full income is fully realized by day 45 or 50. There are no other crops that can compete with this economic return on a time basis.

The remaining material left after mushroom production can be either recycled back to the field as a super-fertilizer due to the presence of growth factors produced by the mushrooms, or it can be utilized as raw material input for fish food or cattle fodder.

Cereal grains such as sorghum or millet represent the maximum potential for this project, since they produce such a large quantity of ideal waste material substrate for the next step. Other crops would yield a lower monetary value per hectare. However, even crops such as yams, beans or cocoa would produce at least an equivalent value on the secondary crop as the value of the primary crop. That means the income realized by the farmer would be at least a minimum of twice what is now being realized from the same land cultivation. In most typical cases, the income increase is between 5 and 8 times the current income from the farm operation.

Truly a winning situation for all involved.

 

Sources of Data

 

1. This most current published data (2005) is from World Agriculture Statistics -Cereal yield was found at

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/agr_cer_yie_kg_per_hec-cereal-yield-kg-per-hectare

 

2. This pricing information for Sorghum was obtained from Accra Polytechnic, March 2009.