One of the goals of the project is to complete the provisional list of edible mushrooms which are to be found in the primary forest ecosystem.
All together there are three types of edible mushrooms that have commercial potential.
Mycorrhizal mushrooms which live in symbiosis with trees. Without these trees these mushrooms cannot be cultivated e.g. chanterelle (Cantharellus). These are present in the neighbouring country of Burundi but only have a limited potential.
Saprotrophic mushrooms, species which take their nutrients from dead or rotting wood. Some species can be cultivated such as Pleurotus, Lentinus, Auricularia and Agaricus. For some species we know for certain that they can be found in Rwanda or that there is a strong likelihood that they are present in this country. Indigenous varieties of Pleurotus are known or suspected to be present in Rwanda. Ready to become the Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus) out of the Rwandan forests, for example.
Interesting because they are best adapted to the local environmental conditions and thus offer a better return. The famous shiitake (Omphalotaceae); from the genus Auricularia, the Judas ear, that is used a lot in Chinese cuisine; and from the genus Agaricus, most know in the West for the ordinary kitchen mushroom. In each of these genera we expect to find new species and varieties with local potential.
The species of the genus Termitomyces, a symbiont that lives in association with termites in their termite hills. Species of Termitomyces are present everywhere in Rwanda, but because of the very specific relationship it forms with the termites, they have never been cultivated with success. A species of special interest could be Termitomyces microcarpus. Called locally as ‘imegeri’; a species that is highly prized by the local population. T. microcarpus grows on the outside of the termite hills so it could be technically possible to cultivate. If this succeeds, there is most certainly a market for this delicacy.