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Network of Women mushroom farming - Rural women partner with FFP, Social Enterprise Boost Initiative for mushroom production

Published:Friday | August 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Pauline Smith, Network of Women executive director. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

 Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer

Mandeville, Manchester:

With no real mushroom-producing farms in Jamaica, the Network of Women (NOW) For Food Security has partnered with Jamaica National Foundation's Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) and Food For The Poor (FFP) to offer rural women the best income-producing opportunity possible and reduce the amount of imported mushrooms.

"Food For The Poor will be providing all of the infrastructure, the labs and all the equipment that we need to produce spores mycelium, inoculations and everything to do with mushroom production. They are also giving us a food processing facility that any mushroom that's not sold fresh, we will be able to marinate it and can it," said executive director of NOW, Pauline Smith, in an interview with The Gleaner.

The building to be donated will house classrooms, labs offices, bathrooms and kitchen and is expected to be up and running by the end of the summer. Trained by the Ontario Mushroom Farmers Association, Smith said with the use of text and videos the group will be conducting the training sessions while SEBI will control all the business plans and entrepreneurial details of the project.

"The way the project works is that we'll be giving individual women their own grow-out houses ... NOW will do all the technical work and when you come to the farm, you will get a ready-to-grow kit and so if you have a modular eight by eight house that will hold 60 bags, you can start," Smith said. She noted that they had been working with a designer of mushroom houses and, when women were picked to get a house, NOW would know, exactly what to do.

For more on the work of the JN Foundation and SEBI, watch 'Corporate Coffee Mornings' with Barbara Ellington at: www.jamaica-gleaner.com and click on VIDEOS.