By Martin Paul in Abuja
Mushoom farmers in the country have estimated that with government support, they can produce over 1.5 million kilograms of the commodity annually for local consumption and export.
The President of the National Mushroom Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Mike Awuno disclosed this at the official inauguration of the group in Abuja by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Trade, Investment and Industry, Mr Edet Sunday Akpan.
Mr Awuno who put the estimated annual production of mushroom at 149,520kg said this figure represents ten percent of the total annual mushroom demand locally in the country.
"This means that mushroom farmers may need to produce about 1,495,200kg to meet local demand alone. And with additional encouragement from government, farmers can produce much for industrial raw materials and export", he said.
The national president, who explained that mushroom farming has various entrance stages which require different levels of investment , said; " a beginner will require about N400,000 which can be recouped with the first cycle operation in two months all things being equal".
He, however, disclosed that the association has set up a robust financial structure that will give it a very transparent financial records, adding that " all monies from local, state and national chapters including donations grants shall first enter into the mushroom treasury single account from where it will be disbursed".
Awuno said the long term goal of the association is to make mushroom the largest employer of labour among all other community association products.
“This is achievable because with our population of about two hundred
(200,000,000) inhabitants and our vigorous campaign if eat a plate of mushroom a day soon to kick off, the local consumption of mushroom will increase to about 400%", he added.
Speaking while inaugurating the group, the permanent secretary, commended the association for the initiative and assured the 15- member National Executive and Board of Trustees of government support.
He said the massive production of mushroom by the association, will not only create employment opportunities for the jobless youth, it will also improve quality of health of the people.
The Association which was formed in Port Harcourt had its inaugural meeting last year in Abuja.