Published on: Nov 09, 2023
Solar mushrooms from the container
The first solar mushrooms will soon be available from the container. Admittedly, the idea sounds a bit wild. Mushrooms and solar energy? And in Tanzania to boot? How are you supposed to earn money with that?
In a remote corner of Tanzania, near Arusha, my friend Gian Schachenmann has the vision to revolutionize the edible mushroom industry. He assured me that there is an immense local demand for high-quality mushrooms. Tourist hotels in the region import mushrooms from abroad at horrendous prices. Month after month, hundreds of Swiss francs flow abroad for this delicacy. As proof, Gian presented me with several letters of intent from interested tourist hotels shortly afterwards.
I was immediately captivated by the idea, especially when we started to sketch out business models. We saw the potential to recoup our investment within four to five years - at least on paper. But projects in the Global South often offer a lot of room for surprises. But if it works, it is an interesting source of income for local companies.
In order to finance this innovative project, we submitted a REPIC application in Switzerland. This is an interesting funding instrument of the Swiss SECO, among other things to promote renewable energies in international cooperation. The program is ideal for innovative projects such as our solar mushroom farm.
Our submitted project involves the construction of a container-based mushroom farm that can produce an impressive 500 kilograms of edible mushrooms per month. This requires several containers, solar-powered air conditioning units and precise control of temperature and humidity. Everything is based on a solar storage system, as the local electricity supplier is very unreliable and dangerous power surges often occur. And we didn't want mushrooms, we wanted mushrooms.
After months of hard work and installation by our local team, the system will soon be completed and the first "solar mushrooms" will end up on the plate of a safari tourist. We are looking forward to Tanzania and may soon be able to try the first CO2-neutral edible mushrooms ourselves in a local restaurant.
by Alessandro Medici