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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Empowering Mushroom Cultivation in Nigeria: Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Action [NIG498]

Assignment NIG498

Eric M. Washington

Nancy Kaboh, Victoria Relief Foundation: “A big thank you to USAID through Winrock International for this training. It was very comprehensive, and Dr. Khalid did an excellent job explaining every step. Having a dedicated group of spawn producers will enable us to consistently have mushrooms, a critical component of the process.

Dr. Khalid Hameed, F2F Volunteer: “I feel immensely grateful to have had the chance to meet these people and witness their situation firsthand. The spirit of camaraderie and mutual learning created a wonderful atmosphere. I was particularly struck by their enthusiasm and ambition to expand their mushroom farming efforts.

Faced with an increasing demand for organic products, mushroom cultivation in Nigeria is blossoming into a lucrative agribusiness. The high nutritional and medicinal value of mushrooms and readily available and affordable raw materials make this industry ripe with opportunity. However, like any growing sector, mushroom farming also contends with hurdles such as postharvest losses and insufficient storage facilities.

Enter Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program, which aims to galvanize the potential of mushroom farming as a catalyst for job creation and poverty alleviation. By conducting a ‘Training of Trainers on Production and Management of Oyster Mushroom,’ F2F equipped local mushroom producers with practical production and management techniques. These efforts aimed to mitigate the need for more skilled trainers in mushroom cultivation.

Leading the training was F2F volunteer Dr. Khalid Hameed. His first step was a thorough assessment of the host’s laboratory and incubation room, a testament to the host’s unwavering commitment to succeed. Dr. Hameed provided vital training resources such as agar, culture media, spawn, and various bag types sourced locally and through volunteers. To ensure hands-on learning, the participants were grouped for practical sessions, where they received comprehensive instructions on culture preparation, substrate sterilization, spawn application, and bagging techniques.

With his emphasis on locally available resources and stringent sanitation measures, Dr. Hameed facilitated an inclusive training environment that minimized contamination risks. Throughout the training, he witnessed a resounding enthusiasm and ambition among the participants to excel in mushroom farming.

Nancy Kaboh, a representative of the host Victoria Relief Foundation, expressed her gratitude towards USAID and Winrock International for making the training possible. She highlighted the training’s critical outcome: forming a dedicated group of spawn producers to ensure a continuous mushroom supply, a cornerstone of successful mushroom farming.

However, this initiative’s impact extended far beyond acquiring technical skills. Dr. Hameed fostered a welcoming and empowering environment that facilitated meaningful connections among participants. He found deep satisfaction in witnessing participants bolster their farming practices and gain a broader understanding of mushrooms’ nutritional and medicinal significance.

This training program exemplifies Winrock International’s commitment to empowering local communities through the Farmer-to-Farmer program. By equipping mushroom growers with the necessary knowledge and skills, addressing infrastructure gaps, and cultivating a sense of community, mushroom cultivation is transformed into a viable avenue for economic growth and poverty alleviation in Nigeria.