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Essay: Cultivating mushrooms

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Our idea
Worldwide there are millions of tonnes of mushrooms being cultivated every year. The biggest producer is China, who cultivates about 70% of the worldwide production. Poland is the biggest producer in Europe. The Netherlands is second biggest producer in Europe and cultivates around 250 million kilo mushrooms each year. All these gigantic quantities of mushrooms are being produced the ”usual way” with the aid of horse manure and plain old soil. However the big success of this method it is not the only way to cultivate mushrooms. This new method of cultivating uses different kinds of matrixes like sawdust, straw, various grains and even coffee-grounds (Feiten en cijfers, 2010). This brings us to our new method of cultivating mushrooms namely cultivating mushrooms with the use of grain. This could be any grain and any kind of mushrooms. However we chose to use Sorghum (a kind of grain) and oyster mushrooms. The reason why we chose these particular elements are given further on in this report.
This new method is not that unusual, small growers are already cultivating this new way but big growers still lack behind. However the change in the way of cultivating in our new method it does not require extra care nor special materials. The only thing you need is a little bit of knowledge which we like to provide along with are product in Rwanda.
Why Sorghum?
Sorghum or Red Durum is a grain specie how originates from Africa. Nowadays it is mainly being cultivated in tropical or subtropical countries (Sorghum, 2002). Sorghum is a low-cost grain, which makes it widely known in continents like Asia and Africa. In those countries it is mainly used as a food source for man and animal (Giannakopoulos, 2011).
Sorghum stalk.
But why do we choose to use Sorghum as our matrix?
Sorghum consists for 69% of starch and the remaining 31% is made up of Protein, Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium and iron. Because of this wealth in nutrients it is a suited matrix for growing mushrooms. Besides that there has been a research on growing rates of mushroom mycelium (the mushrooms roots) with the use of different matrixes. This research shows us that the use of Sorghum as a matrix speeds up the mycelium growth. According to the researchers this could be due to the fact that sorghum has a bigger surface area than most of the other matrixes that were used.
With all this in the back of our minds it makes for us a wise choice to you sorghum as our matrix.
Why Oyster-mushrooms?
The oyster mushroom is a really versatile mushroom and has some amazing ability’s which most people do not know, for example
‘ Fast growing of mycelium and mushroom fruits (Pleurotus ostreatus: The Oyster Mushroom, 2006)
‘ High resistance against micro organisms (Pleurotes Ostreatus, 2005)
‘ Large volume of the mushrooms fruits (Oyster mushrooms, 2008)
‘ Easy to conserve (Marieke van Dijk, 2007)
‘ Optimum growing temperature of about 28 degrees Celsius
‘ (which corresponds with the temperature of our target country Rwanda)
(Pleurotes Ostreatus, 2005)
the main reason we chose the oyster mushroom is because of its pleasant taste, tenderness and high protein levels. With this high protein levels we want to protect the people of Rwanda against malnutrion.
The Procedure
The whole process consists of 2 major parts, namely 1. the preparing of the breeding-bags and 2. The care taking and harvesting of the mushrooms. The first part is in the start-up phase, being done by us and imagine to introduce them to the procedure of cultivating mushrooms. Later on it is our target to make them independent so they can produce their own breeding-bags which can create small companies and employments.
Preparing the Breeding-bags
Firstly the sorghum (our matrix) needs to be sterilised. This is done by cooking it for a hour in an oil drum. After cooking drain out the excess water till the sorghum is still moist but not wet (Zelf paddestoelen kweken, 2000).
When the sorghum is moist enough take a plastic bag and open it. Put on some plastic gloves to prevent an contamination with other fungi or bacteria. Fill the bag with a small layer of sorghum. After that take a hand full of oyster-mushroom spores and place it on top of the sorghum. Keep repeating these two steps until the plastic bag is filled for about 2/3. After the breeding-bag is filled close it off with a shutter, and store it in a dark room.
Taking care and harvesting the mushrooms
Poke very small holes in the breeding-bag so the mushroom spores can breathe and grow and then place the Breeding-bag in a dark and moist environment (Basis kweken , 2004). After 10 towards 20 days the mushroom mycelium has grown completely in the Sorghum, Which is recognisable by a white fluffy layer on the Sorghum. When the mycelium is healthy and big enough, you need to take out a sterile Knife and cut small X’s on the breeding-bag, and place it in an environment with indirect sunlight. This will be a sign for the mycelium to start producing fruits (Thuiskweekpakketen, n.d.). Keep track of the bags daily if the mushrooms are big enough to be harvested (usually after 8 days). After about 3 flushes the matrix will become useless. The breeding-bags can then be cut open and the remaining Sorghum along with the mushroom mycelium can be used as silage, because it is still very nutritious. After this the whole process can be repeated by getting a new breeding-bag.
Does it work
Unfortunately our own test breeding-bag failed. After 12 days our bag got contaminated with another fungi which was stronger and killed the oyster mushroom mycelium. This fungi was probably a Aspergillus which is a very common fungi in our region (Aspergillus, 2005). However we did not get any mushrooms we still have showed that oyster mushroom mycelium can grow with the use of Sorghum.
There are a number of reports and examples which tell us that it is possible to:
A. grow mushrooms on Sorghum.
For example the lab report of microbiologist Giorgos Giannakopoulos for instance. In his report he describes how he cultivated the mushroom specie Schizophyllium Commune on Sorghum for a research on Therapeutic proteins. In his report he also mentions an undertaking in Uganda which cultivates oyster mushrooms and at that undertaking they prefer to use Sorghum as a matrix rather than sawdust or straw (Giannakopoulos, 2011). Sadly the conclusion for this choice is not given.
B: to grow mushrooms with the use of a so called breeding bag.
A good example for this point is the small business called ”Back to the roots”, run by young students Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez. Their business is all about recycling and growing your own food. They use used coffee grounds from local coffee shops to use as a matrix for their mushrooms. With those coffee grounds they produce small mushroom Breeding-bags for at home use (Our story, n.d.).
From this two sources we can conclude that it is possible to cultivate oyster mushrooms with the use of Sorghum.
Our test Breeding-bag after 8 days.
Rich and healthy mycelium trough-out the whole bag
Our test Breeding-bag after 12 days.
The contamination can be seen in the red circle.
Before a product can be used as effective as possible, one must have ample of knowledge of what purpose it has. In this case it is to foster the economy and wellness of a country and his people by collaboration. This can be achieved by for example creating a whole new food source. Could it be possible? According to us, we think that with the required passion nearly everything can be solved.
As a command, we were chosen to create mushrooms as a food source. It is therefore of great importance that the concerning country has an acceptable climate. That way, the growth of the mushrooms are at maximum and likewise the people have the most profit they can get. The political stability is significant as well.
In Africa, many countries cope with corruption, poverty and malnutrition on vast scale. Of course we cannot solve all of these problems. However we realized that a healthy population is the biggest priority for Africa and its people. mainly because a healthy population makes it possible to keep helping Africa and spawning aid on the weak points of the community.
As a matter of fact, our concept surrounds a whole community and does not only create new nutrition resources, but also fosters the solidarity between the many separate groups in country. It also prevents that the population reduces the mountaingorrilla’s habitat which inhabit the vast landscapes of Rwanda. Giving the people a new way to get food keeps them away from cutting precious trees around the mountains.
By taking all these requirements and factors, we have come to the conclusion that we will focus our product on Rwanda. The climate of Rwanda perfectly fits to the needs of the mushroom. The temperature always is around 26 degrees and the precipitation is much higher because of the average height which lies much higher than the surrounding countries.
Rwanda has been a country of war between big tribal’s for a short period of time. However, friction between the Hutu’s and the Tutsi’s still exists and escalations are still a nightmare for the people in Rwanda. In 1994 an immense genocide has occurred. Many Tutsi’s were killed by Hutu’s alongside the Twa, the aborigines of Rwanda. The amount of prevailingly Tutsi’s whom are killed is estimated between a half million and one million victims. (BBC, 2011), (Harsch, 1998) This occurrence really emasculated the social interrelation among the community. The commercial state of Rwanda lacks behind as well because of this situation. Therefore 60,3% of the population lives below poverty line. (UNDP, 2007)
We think that with this product solidarity in Rwanda will be on the increase. Nowadays the prime minister is a Tutsi which is great because The Tutsi’s have been extremely oppressed.
First of all, we would verylike to thank imagine for giving us the opportunity to be part of such a big group of students. Although we did not have much conversations with the rest of the groups, we had the feeling that together we stood as a team to make the world a tiny bit better. it gave us a great feeling. We also would like to thank mister professor Lugones for supporting us and giving us the right information and introduction at the beginning, for we have learned a lot from. it was very pleasing that he was accessible in communication and discussion. Beforehand we had a whole different view of how mister professor lugones would be. therefore we were suprised and delighted about our first meeting. On top of that we are glad that miss Sing Chi kept contact with us to check our progress. It was very helpful. We recomment to keep this whole project running. Students learn a lot about the world of science and everything that comes with it.
Aspergillus. (2005, February 20). Retrieved from www.wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspergillus
Basis kweken . (2004, January 1). Retrieved from www.mushplanet.nl: http://mushplanet.nl/
BBC. (2011, Mei 17). Rwanda: How the genocide happened. BBC, p. 2.
Feiten en cijfers. (2010, january 12). Retrieved from www.champignonidee.nl: http://www.champignonidee.nl/about-mushrooms/feiten-en-cijfers/index.cfm?articles_id=ECE68BA3-6D06-4C1A-96D9-1042E8949D06
Giannakopoulos, G. (2011). Ameliorating the mushroom forming basidiomycete schizophyllum commune for the production of therapeutic proteins. Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht.
Harsch, E. (1998, augustus 1). OAU sets inquiry into Rwanda genocide. Africa Renewal, p. 3.
Marieke van Dijk, N. H. (2007). Enidado. Veendam: Foundation Imagine.
Our story. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.backtotheroots.com: https://www.backtotheroots.com/about-us
Oyster mushrooms. (2008, July 9). Retrieved from www.fungifun.org: http://www.fungifun.org/mushworld/Oyster-Mushroom-Cultivation/
Pleurotes Ostreatus. (2005, February 6). Retrieved from www.wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleurotus_ostreatus
Pleurotus ostreatus: The Oyster Mushroom. (2006, December 3). Retrieved from www.mushroomexpert.com: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/pleurotus_ostreatus.html
Sorghum. (2002, June 11). Retrieved from www.wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorghum
Thuiskweekpakketen. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.minichamp.nl: http://www.minichamp.nl/content/4-over-ons
UNDP. (2007). Human and income poverty. Rwanda: UNDP.
Zelf paddestoelen kweken. (2000, April 13). Retrieved from www.neerlandstuin.nl: http://www.neerlandstuin.nl/planten/padde.html
Appendix A: How?
Key partners
Our most important partners are:
‘ Charitable foundations
‘ Manufacturers
‘ Consumers
‘ Transport companies
What is the interest of these partners by helping us reach the value proposition?
Charitable foundations:
A new project to help raise the living circumstances of the people of Rwanda
A new source of income and contact with the charitable foundations.
Our consumers (people of Rwanda) are getting knowledge, skills and tools. When these things are well-used, it helps Rwanda getting an economic stimulation.
Transport companies:
These companies benefit from helping us these same as the manufacturers do, they get a new source of income and new contacts.
What key resources gets the company with the cooperation of these partners?
Charitable foundations:
Finances, employees and connections/relations with partner companies.
Materials and our final product
Customers and the power to give our knowledge and tools to use our product to other people (spread of knowledge).
Transport companies:
Vehicles to transport our product to Rwanda.
Of which core activities do these partners take care?
The only core activity our key partners take care of is the import of our product. The import is done by the transport companies. We take care of delivering knowledge, networking and socializing ourselves. We want to take this in our own hands because we can still have a sort of supervision over our product this way.

Core activity
To realize our value proposition, we have to import, deliver knowledge, network and socialize. These activities are part of the networking category.
Key resources
What key resources do we need to realize our value proposition?
– Finances
– Employees
– Connections/relations
with partner companies.
– Materials
– Customers
– Spread of knowledge
– vehicles
Value proposition
Because we partly outsource our product to a charitable foundation we have two customers, the charitable foundation and the people of Rwanda.
Charitable foundation:
The charitable foundations lack the knowledge, materials and resources to deliver a solution for the problem in Rwanda
The product that the charitable foundation delivers is a breeding bag and indirect an economic stimulation for the people in Rwanda.
There are a few problems in Rwanda, a few of them are malnutrition, poverty and a lack of knowledge and chances to build an lucrative economy.
We give the people of Rwanda the knowledge to use and even develop our product. That way they can make it their own and stand on their own feet.’
Costs structure
These are the costs of the resources we need to manufacture our final product. These costs are without shipping costs and can be different when bought in bigger numbers. The costs to make one breeding bag can be shown like this:
Startup costs Refill
Oil barrel (Jerrycanshop) ‘63,95
Sorghum (‘0,80/kg (Tijssen)) ‘2,80
Knive (ToolMax) ‘2,18
Mushroom spores (‘1,98/L (Mini Champ)) ‘1,98
Sterilizing alcohol (Mistyva) ‘2,95
Breeding bag (Topa verpakking) ‘0,01
Bag closer (Topa verpakking) ‘0,02
Gloves (Vinyl-handschoenenspecialist) ‘0,10
Total startup cost: ‘69,08 Total cost refill (each 2 weeks): ‘4,91
Employees and vehicles
Because we outsource our project to the charitable foundation Rwanda aid, we do not need very much employees. We go to Rwanda for two weeks (can be longer but prices are for two weeks) to transfer our knowledge to the people there. The things we need to go and stay in Rwanda are:
– Ticket from Schiphol to Kigali airport, approximately ‘599.00 per person. (Skyscanner)
– Rental car to drive to the south of Rwanda where the rest of Rwanda aid operates, approximately ‘800.00 for two weeks. (Europcar)
There is a company that can transport a full container load oversee, that company is BMS forwarding. They travel directly to the capital of Rwanda, Kigali, (Transport Guide Rotterdam) where we can hire some trucks to bring the products to their destinations.
Costs for the people
The costs for the consumers can be that other Rwandese people can get jealous, but this will not become a problem because the project can be brought to everyone.
Costs for the planet
The planet will get costs in source of CO2 emission and bringing another species in Rwanda, which can bring harm to the Eco culture in Rwanda.
Customer relationships
Our project will concentrate on having a personal connection with the charitable foundation. This for a short time, because we need to give the charitable foundation the knowledge on how to handle with our product. After this time the foundation will be able to handle with the product and we will try to, step by step, outsource our project and our relations. This so the project will become part of the foundation’s company.
The charitable foundation will need to have a long term personal relationship with their customers, the people in Rwanda, so they gain the knowledge on using our project and being able to set up their own business. The customers will be helped by the foundation during the set up time and after some time the people in Rwanda will be able to use and sell their project themselves.
Customer segment
Our company concentrates on charitable foundations, after searching on the internet we found foundation Rwanda Aid (foundation Rwanda Aid) concentrates on farming and giving education on how to handle a business. So our project will help the foundation Rwanda Aid completing this project of their foundation.
To obtain our customer segment, we will need to communicate with the foundation. We will need to set up a distribution center for obtaining and transporting our product; therefore we need a transport company and several workers in the distribution center.
Profit structure
The average price for oyster mushrooms in Rwanda is ‘1,91 for one kilogram (Buy from Rwanda). Our project will bring around four kilograms to the consumers of the foundation. So this will bring them an income of ‘7,64 from our project each two weeks, because this is the average time it takes to harvest your mushrooms. The startup costs are ‘69,08 this will be a loan for 2 years (24 months). So this profit considering the costs can be shown like this:
Costs Profit
Startup loan 1 year ‘34,54 1 Harvest (2 weeks) ‘7,64
Refill (each 2 weeks) ‘4,91 1 year profit ‘198,64
Total refill 1 year ‘127,66 Total costs -‘162,20
Total costs (1 year) ‘162,20
Total profit (1 year) ‘36,44
Costs Profit
Refill (each 2 weeks) ‘4,91 1 Harvest (2 weeks) ‘7,64
Total refill 1 year ‘127,66 1 year profit ‘198,64
Total costs -‘127,66
Total costs (1 year) ‘127,66 Total profit (1 year) ‘70,98
Profit for the people
1 Harvest (2 weeks) ‘6,69
1 year profit ‘173,81
Total costs -‘162,20
Total profit (1 year) ‘11,61
The consumers, the people in Rwanda, will make a average profit of ‘36,44 a year the first 2 years. After these 2 years the loan for the startup costs are paid of. This will make their profit ‘70,98. This will be each year their profit for growing mushrooms. If the consumers will eat a part of their own harvest, 0,5 kilogram then this will make a difference. The profit, if they will keep a part of the harvest for them self,
can be shown like this:
But in this model the loan is still in the costs. This means that after 2 years the consumers profit will be ‘46,15. So our product will give the consumers the possibility to earn money as well as giving them a new food source. Our project will give them as well as a new income and a new food source but also an education.
Profit for the world
Our project will help the world, because the consumers will find a new source of food. So they can produce their own food. Clean and fresh, so the consumers will know and tell others about their new source of food. They will do the same and together we can start a new way of growing food and helping each other, passing on education and make a change in the worlds understanding on food.

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