Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

25 January 2013

Namibia: Erari Mushroom Suppliers Need Funds for Expansion

The Erari Women Organisation is in need of funding from donors and development agencies to expand their mushroom enterprise and start exporting fresh and processed mushrooms.

Established in 2010, Erari Mushroom Suppliers is located in Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa Region and consists of 17 project members, five males and 12 females. The facility was established with the aim of producing mushrooms as a source of income for both the project members as well as their dependants.According to project coordinator, Lucia Conradie, the HIV prevalence rate is high in the area and many people in the Okakarara district suffer from high blood pressure, thus producing mushrooms will provide a healthy diet for the residents.

Conradie says apart from providing the project members with mushrooms to consume, the members benefit by sharing the profits made from the harvest when they sell the mushrooms. A mushroom house was set up at the centre to facilitate the cultivation and harvesting of the mushrooms, however the members still need funding to buy the neccessary equipment and office stationery such as packaging material, as well as a vehicle. "When funds are available from donors, we hope to export and expand the business," she said.

In September 2012, members of Erari Mushroom Suppliers received training from Pauline Kadhila Muandingi, project coordinator of the University of Namibia's Zero Emissions Research Initiatives project (ZERI). The members where taught how to grow oyster mushrooms, preserve and dry them in order to make soup. They were also shown how to cook the soup.

In 2011, the enterprise received N$250 000 from the Innovative Grant Mechanism to construct a mushroom house with three rooms for cultivtion of oyster mushrooms. Production of 10 tonnes of fresh and dried mushrooms, packaged and ready for marketing, earned the members an income of more than N$3000. The funds also allowed training of members in cultivating and marketing of mushrooms as well as basic business management skills. Atleast 13 temporary jobs were created during the implementation of the project.

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