Kigali Farms

Laurent Demuynck
Kigali Farms is the biggest producer and distributer of fungi and fungal substrates (growth media) in the whole of Rwanda.  The business was set up in 2010 and produces substrate for the production of Oyster mushrooms, mushrooms and fungal spawn (= fungal mass or mycelium- or the fungal hyphae from which the mushroom fruiting bodies grow).  50 people work for the business – most of them in the production department.

Ariane Mukeshimana
The team is led by the experienced bio-engineer Ariane Mukeshimana.  She is specialised in mushroom cultivation, more specifically the production processes and nutritional continuity.  The production of ‘fungal spawn’ is led by a locally trained specialist Pelagie Nyirandikumana who has over 20 years work experience.

Together, with Laurent Demuynck, founder and CEO of Kigali Farms, these two ladies will guide the successful implementation of this project.

In this project, Kigali Farms will use its expertise in the cultivation of saprotrophic species of mushrooms to see if they can cultivate these new species and varieties of mushrooms which the APM have discovered in the Rwandese forests.  Kigali Farms also have good international export contacts to commercialise these promising species on a more global scale. Opening up new global markets that will generate valuable export income for the Rwandese economy.

In contrast to the saprotrophic species, the mycorrhiza species (a fungal species that live in close relationship with its host – in this case tree roots) cannot be cultivated without the tree species with which they form a living symbiosis with.   But there are some exceptions.  The edible species – like chanterelles – are so proliferous in their natural habitat (expect a harvest of up to 100 kg/hectare per year), that they are interesting from a commercial point of view.  They can be sustainably harvested in their natural habitat without damaging the surface fruiting bodies or the mycelium sheltering underground.

These fungi can be harvested without damaging the mycelium (comparable to the harvesting of the fruit from an (apple) tree).  In this way, a regular and sustainable harvest can be guaranteed.  In Burundi, mycorrhiza species are still a very common find in the open forest.  In Rwanda, this is no longer the case because of agriculture and the uncontrolled production of charcoal. What will the future hold for Rwanda? Based on the richness and diversity of its natural resources the future for Rwanda and its people should be very good – but only time will tell!

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