Kotulo Mushroom project has been operating for only ten months, and its managing members and workers are already optimistic about its prospect for growth. The North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has spent a total of R3.6 million over a period of two financial years to get this project up and running, and this amount was for the project’s infrastructure development and production inputs for the initial three production cycles.
The project is situated in Luka village outside Rustenburg in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, and employs 16 locals, the majority of whom are young people. Of its six managing members, 2 are women, two youths, while two are males.
Located in a 6ha plot which was made available by Royal Bafokeng Nation, the project’s production house has six growing rooms, with each room producing a maximum of 2.5 tons of mushrooms when filled up. Royal Bafokeng Nation also contributed an additional R1.4 million for water provision, fencing, electrification and payment of project employees for the first six months of operation.
Mr Peter Rammutla who is the brain behind this project and also its CEO, says mushroom production is very scientific and needs people who have the necessary skill to provide support and supervise the employees.
“We import the soil we use to grow mushrooms from Ireland and Netherlands on quarterly basis, while the compost is ordered locally”, said Mr Rammutla who added that harvesting takes place after 18 days of growing.
The project has established markets locally and in Gauteng Province. “We produce 2.5 tons per week and our produce has proved to be best in the market as it is 100% organic”, added Mr Rammutla.
The managing members have undergone training on mushroom production through the assistance of the Department, and a Project Manager who is experienced in mushroom production has also been appointed. The Department’s Agricultural Extension Advisor is also providing technical support on a regular basis.
The MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Desbo Mohono, says as the only mushroom project funded by the Department in the Province, it will continue to be provided with the necessary support like access to niche markets, given its massive nature and contribution towards rural development.
As one of the supporters of this project, SEDA has developed a record keeping computer programme for data capturing, and designed a barcode for mushrooms that are packaged for selling at fresh produce markets.