UNAM in pink mushrooms production breakthrough

May 18, 2023

The University of Namibia (UNAM), through its Zero Emission Research Initiative (ZERI), has achieved a breakthrough in the field of agriculture with the successful production and trial of pink mushrooms, scientifically known as Pleurotus djamor.

 Spearheaded by Dr. Lydia Horn, Isabella Ueitele, Prof. Nailoke Kadhila, and Dr. Fimanekeni Shivute, in collaboration with student interns and local communities, this innovative initiative is transforming the agricultural landscape of Namibia.

The team at UNAM has introduced the remarkable pink oyster mushroom, a variety originating from KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, to the country.

Moreover, they have played a crucial role in training individuals interested in mushroom cultivation, providing them with high-quality spores available at the state-of-the-art ZERI facilities. 

"Oyster mushrooms present a remarkable opportunity. These fungi are renowned for their ease of cultivation and short crop cycle, making them a highly productive vegetable that can generate both sustenance and income," ZERI Coordinator, Dr. Horn said. 

While oyster mushrooms have a relatively short shelf life, Dr. Horn highlighted that they can be easily preserved through drying, ensuring their availability for future use.

“The spent substrate from mushroom cultivation can be transformed into compost, which in turn serves as a valuable medium for vegetable production and animal feed, “ Dr Horn said. 

According to Isabella Ueitele, a Senior Technologist at ZERI, mushrooms offer a plethora of benefits, both as a nutritious addition to one's plate and a promising venture for potential growers and farmers.

“Compared to vegetables, mushrooms have a higher protein content, making them an excellent source of essential nutrients.Particularly, Pleurotus species, such as the pink oyster mushroom, are rich in proteins, minerals (Na, Ca, P, Fe, and K), and vitamins (Vitamin C and B complex). These qualities make oyster mushrooms an ideal meat substitute, especially for vegetarian dishes.”

Dr. Shivute, a researcher involved in the initiative, strongly encouraged communities to embrace mushroom cultivation as a means to enhance food security, foster self-employment, and generate income. 

"We strongly encourage communities to embrace mushroom cultivation as a means to enhance food security, foster self-employment, and generate income. By harnessing the potential of mushrooms as a viable alternative to meat, Namibia can promote the health and well-being of its people while simultaneously addressing pressing socio-economic challenges."


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