By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, has challenged Namibian scientists to develop technologies for cultivating mushrooms as a new cash crop. Namibia has a variety of mushroom species that remain grossly undervalued even though they have great potential to contribute to the country's socio-economic development. The country is endowed with the Kalahari truffle found in east and northern Namibia and termite hill mushrooms, which Mutorwa said are underutilised because of people's ignorance on the global respect that the truffles have as well as lack of marketing. He urged researchers to unlock the economic potential of Namibia's indigenous mushrooms. While truffles and termite hill mushrooms are a source of high quality protein, minerals and vitamins, the Ganoderma mushroom has are anti-cancer, anti-virus chemical elements that are good blood regulators and also enhance the body's immune system. Mutorwa was speaking in Mariental at the launch of the Hardap Mushroom Project. The Mariental project is the sixth project that the University of Namibia, with support from Nedbank, has established. The other projects are in Katutura, Henties Bay, Okaku, Ogongo and Gobabis. The mushroom farming project is a key activity of the Zero Emissions Research Initiative (ZERI) regional project, which focuses on community empowerment through transfer of technology to grow mushrooms. Lydia Horn, a research officer in the plant production division of the ministry, said mushroom cultivation could earn producers good money. The price of oyster mushrooms, the species that is cultivated in Namibia is N$100 per kg. Horn said the only trick was to set up and maintain production. Constructing a basic mushroom house costs around N$5?
2008-07-16 00:00:00 10 years ago