The call was made by former Prime Minister Salim Ahmed Salim when inaugurating the new mushroom research and production centre at Boko area on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Dr Salim who is also Chancellor of Hubert Kairuki Memorial University (HKMU) said the plant is unique and its potential had not yet not fully recognized.
“If properly harnessed, mushrooms are capable of boosting individual, family and even the wider national economy,” he declared.
He urged stakeholders to embark on public awareness campaign on how some Asian countries are making a lot of money out of mushroom production.
“If you were disvaluing mushroom, then you should stop such notion immediately and start taking it as food, medicine and business opportunity. From there you will see how your life becomes elegant,” said Dr Salim, pointing out that mushroom production could transform the country’s economy and people’s health.
He said he learned from various countries he has visited that mushroom farming was among businesses that provide good income to those taking it up.
For his part, HKMU Vice Chancellor Prof Keto Mshigeni said few Tanzanians know that mushrooms have financial, nutritional and medicinal value,thus more education is needed on that subject.
Prof Mshigeni is a mushroom expert who for years has been sharing his vast knowledge with other people who consult him on how to farm the product, and now setting up the mushroom research centre.
“There are types of mushrooms which can increase the appetite of HIV infected persons, increase CD4 and so many other benefits. There is mushroom bread, as well, while one can fortify bread with mushroom as it contains protein. No cholesterol,” he elaborated.
Asian countries especially China make tens of millions of dollars annually from mushroom farming so Tanzanians can take up the idea as well as part of crop diversification, the don specified.
China produces more than 30m metric tons of mushrooms per year with a value crossing one billion dollars and employs over 50 million people. It is a dramatic increase from 60,000 metric tons it was producing before embarking on systematic economic reforms in 1978.
The mushroom centre inauguration was part of activities to mark 17 years of the death of the celebrated medic and academic, Prof Hubert Clemence Kairuki.
The late don was a Specialist Obstetrician and Gynecologist who made great contributions to that field, helping a lot to improve women’s health in Tanzania.