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    Healthy eaters craving mushrooms

    Mushroom farmers in Kenya stand a chance to benefit from the growing demand of the fungi globally, thanks to a growing health conscious population that values mushroom for its nutrition. The mushroom global market is projected to reach $50m by year 2019 up from $29m in 2013, according to last year’s report by Market and markets.
    The report shows that while most mushrooms are produced in Asian countries, mainly China and India, most of it is consumed domestically, leaving a mere 15 and 18 per cent for the hungry export market. The two countries produce up to 100,000 tonnes per year.
    Increase in global consumption
    There is a huge demand for both Oyster, Button and Shitake varieties, especially in Europe, where countries like Russia have recorded almost a 100 per cent increase in consumption rate. According to the Food Market report, the mushroom consumption rate in Russia jumped from 1.2kg per person in 2007 to 2.5kg in 2015. Other countries that recorded increased consumption rate include Netherlands, Switzerland and France.
    Yet, even as Kenyan Mushroom farmers salivate at the international market that is offering an average of $13 per kilo for common types like button and even more for rare types like Shitake, they still have a pending duty to satisfy the growing local market.
    High local demand
    Statistics from the National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS) show that the country produces an average of 500tonnes of mushrooms annually against the consumption of 1200 tonnes, forcing huge consumers like five star hotels to import. According to NAFIS, mushroom prices have been on rise in the country since the begging of the millennium with a kilo of button mushroom retailing at up to Sh700.
    Mushrooms are rich source of nutrition because of being fat-, cholesterol-, and gluten-free and very low in sodium content.

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