According to a report by UNICEF, in Kenya, more than a quarter of children under the age of five, or two million children, have stunted growth and suffer from malnutrition. If not addressed, this could have devastating long-term effects, including diminished mental and physical development and, in extreme cases, death. Over the years, malnutrition has not only affected children. It is now crippling to the elderly, especially in communities suffering from extreme hunger, drought, and famine.
Apetsi Ivy, the founder of Kwa Mushroom Farm, seeks to solve the problem of malnutrition in children and the elderly in the community through the production of fresh Oyster Mushroom that is medicinal and highly recommended for human consumption.
Ms. Apetsi, the first runner-up in the Vijana na AgriBiz National Competition, seeks to address the most critical issue in Kenya today, hunger and food insecurity. Mushrooms contain immune-modulating nutrients that act as antibacterial, immune system enhancers, and cholesterol-lowering agents. As a result, mushroom extracts are used to promote human health. This helps mitigate the risk of developing severe health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and anemia. Her business idea is to provide innovative and inclusive models to ensure women and children are empowered and lead healthy lives.
Mushroom farming emits less carbon dioxide compared to other agricultural products and practices. Fungi and mushrooms greatly benefit the environment by reducing pollutants in the background, and post-production mushroom substrates retain high value. They can make excellent compost for community gardens and farms. Without them, dead plant and animal matter would slowly pile up and decay.
Fungi are essential in processing dead material, healthy plant growth, nutrition, medicine, and the entire rise of animal life on earth. Mycelium mushrooms have the unique ability to cleanse pollutants from soil and water. Since mycelium is used to find nutrients and does not stop until there is no more left, it can eat its way through systems that are bad for the environment. Mushrooms can be used in micro forestry, where they kill sickness in other plants simply because they live off the bacteria that makes other plants sick.
Apetsi hopes to improve the accessibility of healthy and nutritious food that is medicinal and recommended for good health, therefore, fighting malnutrition in children and the aged and anemia in pregnant women.