Abner Ndakalako Tomas’ lifelong passion for mushrooms has guided him to register Ndaka Mushrooms and Processing CC, which cultivates and processes fresh organic mushrooms, using sustainable farming practices.
Tomas (29) is a University of Namibia (Unam) Master of Science (Food Microbiology) degree holder, and the ambassador of the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio).
The Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) is a shared biosciences research, development and innovation platform for working collaboratively to address some of southern Africa’s key biosciences issues in health, nutrition and health-related intervention areas, such as agriculture and the environment.
Established in 2020 in Oniipa, Ndaka Mushrooms has recruited about six workers, and offered mushroom cultivation training to over 35 community members to start their small-scale mushroom farming projects, using low-tech mushroom farming techniques, simple household equipment and locally available materials.
“I have always believed in a one-step-at-a-time approach by dreaming big, starting small and doing what I can do at a time,” he told the Youth Corner, while boasting with pride that the venture directly created over 20 job opportunities.
Tomas is optimistic about the business, saying he sees the business growing to its full potential. “My team and I are at the coast right now, assessing things, as we want to open a branch here. This is going to be a big company that will be cultivating and processing mushrooms in the country, adding value and supplying the different markets.”
The crew in Oniipa is, in the meantime, supplying to informal markets before they enter the formal markets.
“For now, we are supplying the informal markets and will try to penetrate the formal market because they have standards. As a start-up, we first need to learn as much as we can before raising the bar higher.” The Oniipa-born Tomas said his love for mushrooms is unexplainable. It is something he is passionate about and worked tirelessly to reach where he is now, despite many challenges he continues to face.
“Challenges include limited mushroom growing houses that limit our production, efficiency and storage capacity; lack of water storage tanks at the farmhouse to collect rainwater, as well as lack of a Good Manufacturing Practice – quality processing equipment, heating, vacuum, air conditioning system to reduce risk of product contamination, and packaging and labelling machines.”