You're listening to the mushroom revival podcast. We are so so enthusiastic about mushrooms and bring on experts and guests from all around the world to geek out with us and go down the mushroom rabbit hole. It's all things fungal and exciting. You can check out our site at mushroom revival.com. And we have an amazing guest from Uganda. Josephine, how're you doing today? I'm good. How are you? So good. So tell the listeners who don't know who you are, who you are. And what are you doing with mushrooms? Yes. Before I start, did you know that in order for you to grow mushrooms for income, you need to first know and understand the mushrooms. And then after that, that's when you will be able to grow mushrooms for income. Yes. Oh that in today's post podcast, and I am Josephine Naka Kandi, I work with an organization called Environmental Conservation and agriculture enhancement Uganda eco agric Uganda. I'm a female Ugandan born 14th of May 1974. I have four brothers and three sisters. That means we are eight and we daughter to return teacher and a housewife. I was born and I grew up in Houma district
that is a district bordering Lake, Lake outbacks. My professional agriculturalists with a veterinary background as well.
Plus some training in biodiversity, wildlife and ecosystems health. I am passionate about women economic empowerment. Thank you for listening. And you have so many projects going on to help these women and mushrooms is just one of the many projects that you're involved with. What initially got you inspired about mushrooms are they told you initially, um, we don't have a teacher and the housewife with
three sisters and four brothers. That means at one point at home, we were over 10 people with only one person as the bread earner. And that was my father. So my mother
who didn't study so much, who stopped at Zinnia for level went out and did vegetable growing as a source of income. Now as I work with a Calgary Uganda, it is a community member based organization that aims at improving livelihoods of the critical, vulnerable and absolutely poor people in Uganda. So in a Greek Uganda, we work with the people who are absolutely poor, they do not have land. They do they were not educated or they are illiterate. Their children do not go to school, they do not have at least a meal a day. So they are in the middle of nowhere. And then given the background that my mother got some income from vegetable growing. So I use mushroom growing as a source of income, or as a way of improving livelihoods of these critically vulnerable and absolutely poor people that we work with. So mushroom growing is a great way of improving livelihoods of these people that do not have land that do not have shelter that are in the middle of nowhere. These mushrooms use look since growing mushrooms uses locally available cheap material and tapping mushroom growing needs a very low capital. Definitely and it's amazing since 2010, I believe you've helped over 64,000 women and total across the many different projects that you're involved with and over. I think you said over 1200 Women currently around the Wakiso district to learn how to grow sell mushrooms. How to how do you get connected with all these women? The 1200 women that has have been supported in mushroom growing in Wakiso, Halima and Chiba Lake District so what we do is we identify these people, our beneficiaries, and these people are organized into groups. So we conduct training to these people. After organizing them into groups of
25 to 30 people. And we also work with community based
with community based trainers, who are always
volunteers from these communities. So the community best trainers act as trainers of other train actors, as trainers, to the beneficiaries and continue training these people, even when we have left, and then organizing them into groups helps us reach a bigger number in a shorter period. And while promoting this mushroom growing, our niche is in using locally available cheap materials. Remember, these are people who are in the middle of nowhere, they have nothing, they do not have learned. That means using mushroom growing, especially using locally available cheap materials is the best thing for them as they improve their livelihood. Since it doesn't need a bigger space. Definitely, I was actually in Kampala, Uganda in 2010 I just missed you.
And I was doing some work with some orphanages there with my brother. And one of the big issues was that, you know, once these girls get, or kids, you know, get old enough and you know, they don't find a family, then you know, they need to make a living for their own for themselves. And a lot of times that's really hard. And so an opportunity like this for young kids who you know, don't really have a family or families you know, that are just looking to make an income.
When women girls of all ages, I think this is really important. So you started this podcast about you know, first, you know, when you're interested in making money with mushrooms, you got to understand mushrooms. So where do you start? And what is your process with these these girls and women. So we identify them, organize them into groups, and then after organizing them into groups, we conduct trainings to them. Now while growing mushrooms, one of the most important thing is to first understand mushroom growing, it is always important for someone to understand what is being done and why it is being done. That is the reason to why we have been able to come up with different
things use the sub threat because we know what we'll need to do and why we should do it. So after organizing them into groups we conduct training.
We give them items to use in mushroom growing like the
initiative we used to give them substrate when it was caught on has. But currently we found that after the cotton became very expensive, we decided to use locally available budget materials. So we give them drums, watering cans, spawn and some other materials that they use in mushroom growing. They also contribute
firewood or charcoal or fuel that is used in sterilizing that is used in sterilizing the substrate. Great and what what have you found work the best for your substrates. What we have discovered is that everything can be used as substrate. Absolutely everything so what we'll majorly use is first of all cotton has but that is very expensive. And it is good for Tanzania. So we measure the US soybean has been has
coffee has sugar cane has
straw or what grass or what you call straw, made stocks, banana dried banana leaves, and any other thing that you can come across that is dry. That rejuvenates meat very well with the grass really worked very well. However, in order to increase the production, in most cases, we add maize brands. How is the trade with Tanzania post the war? Is that really complicated? You said it's really expensive
to get certain things from Tanzania. Is there much tension nowadays or is it mostly resolved? There is no tension between Uganda and Tanzania but
the distance plus the economic crisis, the cotton became very expensive. For example, currently itself goes for about 80,000 Uganda shillings, how many dollars are those. So, that is quite a lot of money yet you can use the locally avoided budget materials which you can pick from here and there.
So, that is something like $21 And remember, these are people who are will appear people who do not have money and by the way, mushroom growing has been majorly supported by people like you. So, all the money or the funds that are provided are taken to support these people to ensure that they grow mushrooms. So, we have to ensure that we use locally available cheap materials so that
the budget we are using is really enough and used adequately. Totally. Yeah. And how are mushrooms accepted in Uganda generally, they are highly accepted, they are loved, there is a very, very, very big market for mushrooms.
First of all, mushrooms grow quickly. That is one. Secondly, even before the introduction of oyster mushrooms,
people really loved mushrooms.
For example, in central and southwestern Uganda, they are important culturally. So eating mushrooms or having mushrooms is something that is really good procedures and more. So the good thing with mushrooms is you use very little energy while cooking them. They cook easily. They cook quickly. They highly they are highly medicinal, they are rich in proteins. So they have so many good good things around them. So mushrooms are one of them most important things that are going on that are likely to save the world. For example, there is increasing population, especially in Uganda, all the land is being fragmented. We no longer have bigger pieces of land where we used to grow acres and acres of beans of maize. Now we have to look at things that can be grown in a very small space and guess what mushrooms is one of them. So mushrooms are loved and bred our even culturally, there is a clan called optical clan, that clan is there to preserve mushrooms. They do not eat mushrooms. So whenever they talk about it that encourages preservation and conservation of the mushrooms. So mushrooms are loved and accepted in Uganda. And how far how far back does that go? Do you know any folklore around mushrooms potentially as far back as like Buganda Kingdom or further back, have you know, old
old stories that have been passed down, you know, spiritual benefits, things like that with with mushrooms in Uganda. One of the most important things is that mushroom growing or mushrooms traditionally are important. Traditionally, they were being picked from the wild as a wild edible funghi they were being picked on May on
that is one in damp, fertile places in forest and in the bush.
They are culturally important. They are Medici No. And people loved them. For example, when a child was having, you know, some babies do cry while after being born. So there were there is a certain kind of mushrooms that you boil, put in somebody's little salt and then give to the baby. We call it ot cavalla then on a marriage ceremony or when you have twins. It's important to prepare these kinds of mushrooms. They're called antico ova and VEDA when I was getting married, my husband was served with these kinds of mushrooms that was prepared culturally. So when you're getting married culturally, they have to ensure that the mushrooms that kind of mushrooms are prepared
and they are part of the meal. And to make matters worse, or more so to that, even at the last funeral, right? They are culturally important as they are prepared in a special meal and everyone must have the mushrooms. So cultural mushrooms are important. However, commercial mushroom growing started in Uganda in 1989. And it started with oyster mushroom growing and I personally, I first learned about mushroom growing in 2000 and ate. And this, this was a workshop where we were trained about mushroom growing. But when we were trained, there were so many perceptions by the farmers around mushroom growing about mushroom growing mushrooms needed a special house, and that house was supposed to be very good. Yet to the people we support are poor, they even don't have where to sleep.
Porn was only produced in Kampala, and was very, very expensive. There was contact technical knowledge about mushroom growing. So this somehow hampered or affected mushroom growing when it was introduced in 2008. And besides oyster mushrooms, what other mushrooms do people usually cultivate? Or is oysters pretty much the the go to mushroom that you'll find anywhere. Oyster mushrooms are common. But as I told you that you must never grow mushrooms for income before understanding the mushroom. That is what happened to me. While growing mushrooms. I started with button mushrooms.
We got funding from the vibrant village foundation and we were supposed to start to to promote mushroom growing for income. So when we got our consultant to support us, the consultant told us that there was a very big market for button mushrooms. They were being bought at a very good price we would export. So what we did we went in for or I went in and promoted button mushroom growing. And guess what? The first time we had 200 kilograms of substrate and by the way, it was majorly caught on had from the 200 kilograms. We only got two kilo grams of button mushrooms. I was so disappointed imagine doing everything in front of the farmers. I was disappointed and embarrassed. However, I'm so grateful to that team that came back. We sat together and agreed that let's go for oyster mushroom growing so apart from oyster mushroom growing there is also a button mushroom growing which I saw at first but from then I have not tried it again. Do people wild forage for mushrooms and sell them at markets? Like if you went to a market will you find many different varieties of mushrooms? Yeah, there are some wild mushrooms that are sold in the market. And besides selling them in the market, I've seen some wild mushrooms for example, they will take a while or that I talked about being sold in supermarkets well packed, properly cleaned. But apart from that during the season of mushrooms. That is when the rainy season has just started. There are always people especially women selling mushrooms, wild mushrooms that have been picked from the bush along the road. I've heard that
term minimizes species known as I might butcher this you have the you have it right in front of you but
a been a JD is that how you pronounce it? Oh, well, yeah, that is in the Ruchika. But I think that is Article Guba. Allah. Oh, it's the same one. Okay. So people will that's the same one that you'll use with babies with the salt and the same in weddings, right? Yes, that is the one amazing. Yes, that is the one and it is really loved. And is that a
Luganda word or two Qabalah? That is Luganda. And is that so generally the women that you work with? Do they either speak I know English is the official language of Uganda, but in the region that a lot of these women
are from Luganda is really popular. Do you? Do you notice other languages being spoken or is ours English and Buganda pretty much the main two, we walk in both central and southwestern Uganda and in central Uganda, they, they speak Luganda. And in southwestern Uganda, that is Houma and Cuba, they speak renewal or Chigga. But 80% of the women that we work with are illiterate and do not know English. They majorly use either Luganda or neuro or Chigga. How many languages do you speak myself? Yeah, I speak English. I speak Luganda I speak on Euro. I speak some bit of rutabaga.
I don't know Swahili? Yeah, I think for amazing. So do you? Do you ever have a Do you ever have a time where there's a language barrier between the women that you work with? Or do you find you all you can always communicate with them? Yes, there are times when there is a language there is language barrier, for example, we have a place called hunger. They speak languages from the north. And I don't understand I don't understand and I don't speak them. And they also use a Hindi and they also don't know Swahili. Do you have a translator? How? I'm sure that makes it really difficult to teach these women about mushrooms and how to start their own business? How do you navigate that? In most cases, we get volunteer volunteers that are community based trainers. So in this case, we ensure that we get a community based trainer. And as a Kobrick, Uganda, we also work within the government structures, we have people called the village health trainers. So in case there is very big problem, we look for the village health trainers called we
work with, we find someone who can speak English who can speak the local language who can translate and we work with that person.
And I know you were talking about before that you you really like to keep this local do you do do you or any of the women trade with Sudan or
the Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania with any of the mushrooms or supplies at all? Currently, we have a lot of local market that we cannot satisfy. And the women we are working with
are poor. We are not yet to that level, we expect that in five years to come, we will be able to export after you've gotten our mushroom Training Center, mushroom growing center, we have have some fridges, we have some transport, then we will be able to transport these mushrooms maybe to Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, and maybe who knows to the US.
That will be great. Yeah. So talk about these two centers that you're talking about and and what do you need to make that a possibility?
First of all, I need you.
I need you who is listening in. I need you who is interviewing me. I would like to walk with you. I can never do this alone. I'm requesting you. First of all, to be part of the mushroom endless love committee. This is a volunteer committee that supports and gives technical advice gives advice. It is the committee where I have a number of friends meeting monthly to give advice on how to achieve this. And then you can volunteer online. Or, for example, currently, I have some volunteers. That is target Grover supporting me in making a specialized training manual for my mushroom or for the mushroom growing process that I use.
You can volunteer virtually in different things even supporting us with our social media platforms. You can also support us by coming on site to train us we really do need these and also to help us get Python that can do well during warm weather or warm conditions. I would like to inform you that we got some she tacky but it never did well because of lack of technical knowledge. So we need you and we also we would like to complete our mushroom growing Center and our mushroom Training Center. We are looking
For 10,000 US dollars. So we I humbly request you to donate, and to give a tax deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor in yours for angels. By the way, we have a lot of love to give you, as you give us, we also have some things to give you, we have handwritten cards, and not that we are supposed to give you.
When we collaborate with you, we always give out shoutouts on our social media platforms. And you will appear in our mushroom Training Center as we are going to put logos of different people that have supported us and most of all, you will have a friend
having gotten a friend, you can also become a patreon or a Patreon. And as a Patreon, I always share with you my life of what I'm doing in the different sectors, it will be as if you're living in Uganda, and you will know a lot of things or everything that goes around ecobrick, Uganda and that we do so please become a patron. volunteer with us. Be part of the mushroom, endless love committee, volunteer virtually. And please donate any kind of donation that you mean that you give means a lot to us and support 500 women grow mushrooms, please support the women, you will have supported either your mother, your sister, or your daughter, please support us. And Josephine you know, I'm always here to help in any way that I can. And we'll definitely talk after this. For anybody listening that wants to get involved. I will have all the links in the bio that you can check out and to help Josephine and all these beautiful women in Uganda grow mushrooms and there's many different projects that you're involved with. What other projects besides growing mushrooms are you involved with to help these women?
Besides mushrooms, we are promoting
organic soya bean
organic contracts have been growing where we have agroforestry so we are promoting tree planting in the soybean that is being grown by the women. We are giving out
Piglet and these piglets are not free. They are on a revolving scheme. When we give a woman one piglet after one year, the woman returns to piglets and these are given to other women. This has been done once the piglets have been passed on. We are also promoting vocational training amongst the women vocational training whereby these women are trained in skills of hairdressing, bakery, tailoring knitting, making soap, making tie and dye so that they can be able to generate income and diversify the different income that diversify the different income streams. We also have a health component whereby we promote sexual reproductive health, service delivery improvement. And we promote we support the women we to access qualitative and quantitative sexual reproductive health service delivery amongst the others. We also promote making briquettes having different energetic being
options Ipsum so that women can be able to cook and get nutritive meals. All of this is such amazing, fantastic work. And you know, I want to thank you and I'm sure all these women are so indebted to you and so grateful for the work that you're doing. I wish more people were like you so big. Thank you. Thank you so much. And I'm calling upon anyone that would like to join the wagon of planting 1 million trees. Please come and join us. Let's plant 1 million trees. So as we were we were we what is this? What is this project? We would like to plant 1 million trees within five years. We have two nursery beds, and we are establishing seedlings from these nursery beds. And as we give out these siblings, so we need people to to come on board support us and we plant 1 million trees amongst the women. Amazing. You're saving the world. I love it. So I'm
really grateful that you came on the show, I will have everything in the bio for for everyone that wants to help out and give you a helping hand for all the incredible work that you're doing. Apart from that, we also support children, please come get the most love from these lovely children. We have a school called San Martino primary school, you can support the children with a meal. As you have a meal. Think about these children. These children are from poor families. Some of them do not have families. So they are at school, we support them to to, to get education, and at the same time, get involved in different things. We also have girls that we are supporting with scholarship schemes, please, you just have to find your passion, and you support your passion. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you any any final words before before we end this podcast? Please, please come and support us. The love you're looking for is with us. Please become a patron to know in detail what we do and what exactly happens. Whatever we do, we we post into our Patreon, please volunteer, you can volunteer online and come come have the rest. Come and enjoy. Come have a lovely moment. This is the only place where you need to come and have a wonderful moment. My lovely friend, please donate. Donate $5 You will feed the child donate $5 You will support construction of the mushroom house. Please support us have quality spawn so that these women can keep growing mushrooms. Instead of giving them handouts. Let us support them grow mushrooms, let us give them spawn to grow mushrooms. Please donate donate to help us raise 10,000 US dollars to complete our mushroom growing house and our mushroom Training Center. Be part of the mash lab by donating to support women grow mushrooms, thank you, thank you much love, much love people like you are are the reason that I have this podcast. And it's such an honor to talk with you over this last almost hour and to get to know what you're doing in this world. And I just want to thank you that people like you are really special. And I'm really glad that you're alive and that you're you're doing what you're doing. And I want to thank everyone for tuning in for another episode. We couldn't have this podcast without you. This is really for you. So please spread the word please help Josephine and all the amazing work that she's doing we'll have all the links in the bio that you can check out and you could donate you can help out in any way that you can. And on a on a personal front this is you know a passion project the podcast so if you want to help out, go to mushroom revival.com And check us out and and the stuff that we're offering. We also have a giveaway that we're doing now if you want to win some free mushroom goodies, you can enter the giveaway also going to be in the bio and when some mushroom products and we're going to have this giveaway ongoing and so if you miss out on one week, you can log in the next week. So with that thank you so much everyone for tuning in wherever in the world that you are sending everyone a big fungal hug and much love made the spores beat with you
Transcribed by https://otter.ai