Efforts are being made to rejuvenate mushroom cultivation, processing, and market expansion in the Lufa district of Eastern Highlands province.
Simo Kilepa, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change and Lufa’s Member of Parliament, attended a significant event on Boxing Day at the district’s headquarters. This event marked the commencement of construction and the reveal of the design for a new mushroom processing facility.
Mushrooms are a key agricultural product in our comprehensive Five-Year Development Plan, alongside coffee,” stated Mr. Kilepa.
The construction of this new facility is scheduled to start early next year.
Upon completion, the building’s operations and the mushroom resale business will be overseen by the District Development Authority’s commercial division, Debala Investment.
The business division’s name was inspired by the combination of “Deveh” from Yagaria LLG, “Bade” from Mt. Michael LLG, and “Ala” from Unavi LLG, as Minister Kilepa describes.
The journey towards mushroom farming in the region started in 1997. This was when a Chinese research group began exploring the area and identified Lufa as an ideal location for growing mushrooms, a lucrative agricultural product.
“Back then, Professor Lin Xian Ji, who led the research team, was invited by the Lufa MP at the time, Mathias Karani, to conduct studies in Lufa. He recognized it as an optimal area for large-scale mushroom cultivation,” shares Kendy Man, a veteran local mushroom farmer.
Since that initial research, Lufa has received continuous support and technical aid for mushroom commercialization at the provincial level. This support is part of a government-to-government agreement known as the Lufa Mushroom Initiative.
Despite having 18 cooperatives in the district, Lufa has yet to achieve its full potential in mushroom production or enter into large-scale production, mainly due to inconsistent counter-funding for the project from the Government.
Lufa MP, Kilepa, recently stated, “This project has long been managed at the provincial level, benefiting only a select few under the guise of the ‘Lufa Mushroom’ name. It’s high time we reclaim it and start executing this plan for the community, which has been dormant for 25 years.”
With its rapid two-week cycle for each batch, Mushroom farming is projected to see a rise in value. The current global market rates estimate the price of this crop could increase from K10 per kilogram in 2023 to K20 per kilogram by 2028.
Despite being one of the simplest forms of cultivation, it’s also the most sensitive and needs careful handling.
The old ‘ghost’ mushroom facility, established in the 1990s at Lufa station, will be replaced by a new, modern mushroom processing facility.