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Rice Husks Valorised Through Mushroom Production 

 By Chris Mbunwe

The valorisation of rice by-products is one of the objectives of a Canadian Government sponsored project at IRAD, titled ‘Enhancing food security in Africa through the improvement of rice post-harvest handling, marketing and the development of new rice-based products’. 
Rice husk is considered and treated as waste by rice producers who either pack throw them away or burn them, with negative consequences on the environment. The quantity of husks obtained from mills is always huge with no use for farmers who are poor and not even suitable for use as animal feed. This husk can be effectively used as substrate for mushroom production. Mushroom are vegetable of high protein content, their cultivation can serve as an alternative protein source or means of generating income for households, particularly for rice-growing rural communities.
A training was held in Bamunka in November 2013 and involved about 20 rice farmers from Bamunka and Bamessing villages of Ndop and from Foumbot who had to apply their knowledge. The farmers were representatives of common initiative groups, church associations and traditional groups. 
Monitoring and evaluation of the mushroom farms is on-going, which is associated with a training of trainers in mushroom seed production and conservation.
Dr Francis Ngome, the National Coordinator of the Project, explained that more training on the production of mushrooms from rice husks are planned later this year in the Mbam and Lagdo rice development hubs with the hope that its avocation by rural women involved in rice cultivation will become a very important activity in the integrated rural development programme. This training will be followed by another training of women on the production of briquettes and cardboards from rice husks. Dr. Ngome ended by asking farmers who will benefit from these trainings to train others so that the technologies could be acquired by all.
Dr Christopher Suh, focal point for the activity in the Ndop hub, who is a mycologist (specialist in mushroom production), explained to the farmers that mushroom cultivation is very easy but needs a lot of patience and care in the production process. He promised that IRAD Bambui will, henceforth, supply quality seeds (spawn) to farmers who are serious in the production of mushroom. Violet Ngong, representing the farmers, thanked the Canadian Government, Cameroonian Government, Africa Rice and IRAD for assistance. She said she was especially grateful with the promise that they will regularly receive training from experts through IRAD and Africa rice.

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