Healthy food; healthy life

Inspired by the importance of edible mushrooms to individual health and good results from their production, a mushrooms’ Company SOCHA (Société des Champignons), located at Ngagara Commune near OTRACO Company, deals with cultivating, producing and promoting them- By Yves Didier Irakoze

Emile Nsengiyumva, the Chairman of SOCHA, sitting near harvested mushrooms©Iwacu

Emile Nsengiyumva, the Chairman of SOCHA, sitting near harvested mushrooms©Iwacu

According to Emile Nsengiyumva, the Chairman of SOCHA, edible mushrooms are not new in Burundi but people don’t know how to cultivate them and the importance they have in human health as well as their economic role in the community.

However, this kind of cultivation requires being more careful because if a mushroom famer doesn’t make a close follow -up during the cultivation period the production can fall down very easily.
In fact, the cultivation of mushrooms is ignored by people because they aren’t aware of their utility in our everyday life and some Burundian people have in their mind that mushrooms are a kind of food for indigenous or low class people.
“Edible mushrooms have many proteins, i.e. 15-27% dry matter and vegetable which have a more positive impact on individual health than food containing animal protein that causes some diseases like gout which is characterized by excessive amount of uric acid in the body” declares Nsengiyumva.
He goes on saying that edible mushrooms are poor in sugar and fat. So, people suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure are advised to consume them.
“Edible mushrooms are also rich in vitamins C, and B, as well as in lipid and mineral,” states Nsengiyumva.
He highlights that in environmental domain, edible mushrooms don’t have any negative impact. “They are cultivated on shelves. Then, if you plant them they won’t cause erosion or destroy other kinds of cultivation plants,” points out Nsengiyumva.
He adds that for other plants, after people have harvested they burn the rest, this may damage or spoil the ozone layer(protecting the air) but for the edible mushrooms we use the rest for cultivation substrate and what we get from the harvest we give it to other farmers for their compost.

We have made a great step

The Chairman of SOCHA is glad to notice that today people are becoming more and more aware of the usefulness of mushrooms in their daily life.
“However, sometimes ago, we had a problem to get seeds in the right time, we could spend three months without doing anything but now things are running smoothly. Furthermore, people ignored mushrooms because they didn’t know how to prepare them, but now we are teaching them how to cook them,” he underlines
He also states that they are distributing leaflets in order to sensitize people to the importance of edible mushrooms’ cultivation and consumption.
According to Nsengiyumva, now they have the best quality seeds from Experts of the Faculty of Agriculture (FACAGRO) at the University of Burundi. Moreover, he says that they work in partnership with ADISCO an Association which supports farmers, provide their products in various selling points of Bujumbura City Council and are teaching people how to prepare edible mushroom samosas.

The government should support this kind of cultivation

Nsegiyumva thanks Burundi Government for its National Agriculture Investment Program (PNIA) about the development of horticulture.
“Very recently, we have had a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Mrs. Odette Kayitesi, to analyze opportunities and challenges of horticulture and see how we can export horticultural products including mushrooms,” declares Nsengiyumva.
He concludes saying that the Government should motivate and promote this kind of cultivation in involving experts in edible mushrooms to provide their knowledge and experience in order to boost it.