Sunday, 3 May 2015

Mushroom Farm

Laurent Demuynck, CEO of Kigali Farms
The scientific part of the mission is over.  The time has come to deliver our samples to Kigali farms.  The Petri dishes contain material of wild varieties of edible mushrooms.  With this material Kigali farms can start to carry out tests that could eventually lead to the commercial exploitation of certain species.

We arrive in Kigali where we meet up with Laurent Demuynck, the founder and CEO of the company.  He told us about the aims of his enterprise.

Kigali farms is a social profit making enterprise that was set up in 2010.  Coming from an idea to reduce the level of malnutrition, they have concentrated on mushrooms because they have a high nutritional value.  The wild edible mushrooms of Rwanda interested us from the beginning although they had never previously been researched.  Our ambition was to discover the hidden treasures of the Rwandan forests which are eaten by the local population

Our goal was to make Rwanda an example of excellence when it comes to the cultivation of mushrooms.

We then make our way to the production facility of Byumba where we meet Adriane Mukeshimana (production and quality control manager) who will show us the various stages of production, starting with the wild varieties collected by our mycologists.  So let's follow the guide…

Step 1
Purification of the mycelium

A piece of mycelium is removed from the collected mother material and transferred to a new Petri dish with agar nutrient medium.  This step takes place under sterile conditions following a standard protocol.  The mycelium can now start to grow.

Step 2
Preparation of the inoculum

An agar plug with mycelium is taken from the Petri dish and transferred to a growth medium based on milled grain.  The mycelium continues to grow into what we call an inoculum.

Step 3
Seeding of the inoculum into grow bags

The inoculum is seeded into pasteurised cotton bags containing cotton fluff, wheat husk and hydrated lime.  This specially formulated growth medium is not only favourable for the growth of mycelium but also for the fruiting bodies (sporophores) of mushrooms.

Step 4
The grow bags go to the incubator
The grow bags are stored in the dark in the incubation room.  These conditions prevent the premature formation of fruiting bodies.

Step 5
The grow bags are buried

The grow bags are finally transferred to trays containing soil.  The air humidity is kept at a constant 95% with a temperature of 18-22°C.  Under these conditions we can shortly expect fruiting bodies to develop on the surface of the soil.  In this case Oyster mushrooms that can then be harvested.

Hopefully the mushrooms which we collected on our expedition will also grow here… but it’s far too soon to say… Fingers crossed.

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