The KOPIA(Korea Program for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology) and SIRDC(Scientific & Industrial Research & Development Centre) indigenous mushroom team held a field evaluation in Rusape District.The field evaluation was attended by SIRDC Chief Executive officer Professor Robson Mafoti, his deputies Dr Leonard Madzingaidzo, Mrs Gladys Mudyahoto and the KOPIA Zimbabwe Centre Director Dr Choi Young Sup. The main purpose of this event was monitoring of forest management practices for the indigenous mushroom growth in constructed sites.
The development of domestic mushroom production technologies will not only provide a nutritious food all year round for households but provides capacity for income generation as mushrooms can be sold for cash to purchase a range of other foods a that can sustain livelihoods at household level. Production of wild edible mushrooms will also diversify and lessen devastating effects of land and soil exhaustion.
Through their partnership, KOPIA and SIRDC scientists trained farmers on data collection using climate tools such as rain gauges, hygrometers and thermometers. This was done with the objective of determining the natural growing conditions of the mushrooms. The natural habitat assessment was also performed to determine the diversity and properties of the soils supporting the indigenous mushrooms growth. Irrigated mushroom sites were then created to mimic the natural environment conducive for indigenous mushroom growth. One of the three sites was established at Lawrence dale Primary school where the event was held and is being managed by village small holder farmers and some teachers at the school. This event was a success, many farmers attended.
The executives toured constructed mushroom sites and were impressed with the results, watering was in progress and there were different varieties of mushroom like Nzeve,Tsvuketsvuke and ndebvudzasekuru which had newly germinated in both sites which were visited.
Farmers, school children and teachers expressed their appreciation of this project through dramas, poems and songs. The SIRDC Chief Executive Officer Professor Mafoti addressed farmers, he told them that he was happy with the way they are passionate about their mushroom project, He promised introduce all current KOPIA projects to Rusape district.Dr Choi reiterated the importance of following instructions to farmers in order to get expected results. The farmers expressed their appreciation of the team’s efforts and are optimistic about positive results.
This project has brought together community members of different age groups and cultural backgrounds in both districts and has established ties among them. They carry their work with feelings of ownership as they work on their sites. The farmers have benefited from the transfer of technologies, for instance they have learnt to measure rainfall, temperature and humidity .They have also learnt to create a conjusive environment which is favorable for the mushroom to grow in areas that already have active myceli running on the ground .The project sites are going to be for expanded in Rusape and Wedza Districts so as to get economic value from the project.The scientists are currently considering alternative durable material for construction of bigger commercial structures.
The indigenous mushroom team has also benefitted indigenous knowledge systems from the farmers like identifying areas where the indigenous mushroom grows and also information on conditions favourable to mushroom growth. (McCarthy, 2004) Postulates that, the holistic nature of IKS is recognised by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency (2001) as an important strategy for tackling the challenges of sustainable development in Africa. In its Sectoral priorities, SectionB5 on Culture, of October 2001, NEPAD categorically states that it will give special attention to the protection and nurturing of indigenous knowledge for sustainable development in Africa. The objective is to make higher education relevant to the developmental challenges of the country and contribute to an African-led globalisation. The success requires a critical interrogation of the relevance of existing western-oriented ways of knowing and methodologies of knowledge production and dissemination that have over the years marginalised African indigenous ways of knowing and knowledge production.