The mandate of the Mushroom Development Unit is to promote the cultivation and consumption of mushrooms in the country, mainly the oyster mushroom; as well as create employment opportunities in order to help alleviate poverty and malnutrition in rural communities especially amongst women and the youth.  Its major objectives are:



i)      To strengthen the promotion of mushroom cultivation by establishing a well-equipped laboratory and offices.

ii)     To provide the Unit with appropriately trained personnel for the promotion of mushroom production in the country.

iii)     To increase the production and consumption of mushrooms.

iv)     To help create new employment opportunities for rural women and the youth through mushroom cultivation.

v)      To empower rural communities with entrepreneurial skills through the production and sale of mushrooms.

vi)      To ensure adequate and satisfactory supply of spawn to rural communities involved in mushroom production.

vii)     To exploit possibilities and assist in building up a mushroom industry that will make a significant contribution to the general economy.

viii)     To foster self-reliance through the possibility of foreign trade opportunities, thus diversifying the export base of the economy.



One day training of Mushroom growers on Mushroom production

Milling of Mushroom growing substrate, Bagging and Spawning

Technical assistance on building of Mushroom cropping houses

Monitor Mushroom production at farmers’ location

Selling of Mushroom spawn

  • 330ml @ E5.00 ea
  • 375ml @ E6.00 ea

Free Mushroom Production Guide Pamphlets.



Visit us at the Mushroom Development Unit, which is located at Malkerns Research Station.

Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Call us at – 25274 379

  • 7653 8725 ( Ms. Busie Nsibande)
  • 7648 1790 ( Ms. Dumile Dlamini)



Oyster mushrooms can be produced from a wide array of agricultural waste material, which makes them the easiest mushrooms grown. In addition, simple and basic equipment can be used allowing the technology of mushroom farming to be suitable for both rural and semi-urban conditions. Prevailing structures can be modefied to suit the required conditions. Not only are oyster mushrooms easier to cultivate, they also take a relatively short period to mature; some species are know to be ready for harvesting 3 to 4 after spawning.


  • Growing substrateBleach
  • Clean water
  • Hard surface for mixing
  • Pasteurised equipment
  • Firewood (optional)
  • Matsches
  • Spawn (seed)
  • Rake
  • Incubation room
  • Containers for harvesting
  • Bleach
  • 400/drum
  • Chopping instrument
  • Wicker lamp or candle
  • Wire rod
  • String or rubber band
  • Fork
  • Watering can with perforated nozzle
  • Growing room
  • Weighing scale

Preparing for Growing Substrate

Recommended substrate combinations include:

  1. 90% sugercane bagasse + 10% wheat bran, i.e 45kg bagasse mixed with 5kg wheat bran
  2. 90% grass straw + 10% wheat bran, i.e 45kg grass mixed with 5kh wheat bran
  3. 45% grass straw + 45% maize + 10% wheat bran, i.e 22.5kg maize cobs 5kg wheat bran


Clean surfaces and tools with 0.5% bleach (10 capfull of bleach in 10L water). Chop dry substrate and mix thoroughly. Sterilize substrate by immersing in 0.5% bleach for a minimum period of 4hrs. Orain to about 60% moisture (no water should drip if sustrate is squeezed by hand) and pack into plastic bags. Alternatively substrate could be pasteurized by immersing in a drum of hot water for 1 to 2 hrs with the temperature maintained at 700C. Cool and drain to require moisture.


Shake spawn (seed) bottle to loosen. If spawn is glued together, flame wire rod and cool it before loosening spawn. Mouth of spawn bottle must also be flamed after opening. Pour a reasonable amount of spawn into sustrate bag, compress and quickly tie with string or rubber band. One bottle can be used to spawn up to 20 two litre substrate bags.


The spawned bags should be placed in a dark warm place for spawn run. White threadlike mycelium will grow from the spawn and cover (colonize) the substrate. The whole substrate in the bag should be completely covered by the mycelium. This process may take up to 4 weeks.

The Growing Room


The growing room is where fruiting takes place. The bags that hab been closed and kept ina dark warm place must now be introduced into an environment that would trigger fruiting. The environment in the growing room should be humid, cool and have minimum light. A layer of sand, which should be watered regularly, can be applied on a rough slab to proved humidity. The bags must be kept in this room for a least 2 days before being opened. Bags may be opened on both endsif they are to be stacked on shelves. Holes are punctured around bags if they are to be left standing on the shelves or suspended from the roof. The entire plastic bag should not be removed to prevent substrate from drying up. If the conditions are conducive, mushroom pinheads should start appearing 3 to 5 days after bag opening. Mushrooms may be ready for picking 2 to 3 days later.

Mushrooms have a very short life span and should be harvested before the caps crack and curl upwards. Gentle twist mushrooms from the base of suastrate making sure that no fragments remain attached to the substrate as this may attract mushroom flies and act as entry points for containers.

Managing the Growing Room

The growing room is the most critical area after a succesful spawn run. Its management plays a highly significant role in the productivity of the substrate. A potentially high yielding substrate/ species combination may give poor yields if the cropping house is not properly managed.

Any structure may be used on condition that modifications are amde to meet the specific requirements.

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