Technical support be provided for mushroom cultivation
KARACHI (September 09 2006): The government should provide facilities and technical support to farmers for cultivating mushrooms as the increased production would attract buyers from international market where demand for mushrooms is growing rapidly.
Dr Muhammad Asif Ali, Incharge of Mushroom Laboratory, Agriculture University, Faisalabad, told Business Recorder on phone that the plain areas of the country, including Sindh and Punjab, have the potential to grow mushroom varieties because these areas have high humidity, which is an ideal condition to cultivate mushrooms.
He said that the season of mushroom cultivation begins from October and farmers in Pakistan grow two types of mushrooms ie ‘oyster’ and ‘button’ mushroom. Oyster mushroom is easier to grow, and a good choice for beginners. On the other hand, button mushroom has good market potential in the country, particularly in Karachi.
He said that mushroom is a group of fungi endowed with the ability of converting inedible plant waste into palatable food, that is praised for characteristic biting texture and flavour.
The usefulness of mushrooms in anti-tumour, immune response, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibiotics and lower cholesterol and triglycerol levels as well as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) in blood plasma is just becoming known, he said.
Besides being a strength promoter, it has been proved that mushroom is capable of regulating hypertension and is an ideal food for diabetic persons. Mushroom has become the choicest delicacy of all classes and hence its cultivation is commercially viable.
Dr Asif said that mushroom cultivation does not require land and can be grown in small houses and huts as a part time activity. The problem of unemployment for women in rural areas could be solved to some extent by involving the women in mushroom cultivation. Mushroom cultivation does not require full time labour, and all family members can look after the different operations easily.
Growing mushrooms is easy and does not require any big financial commitment or involve cumbersome technology. It can be taken as a hobby, or kitchen garden, and fulfils domestic requirements, he said. Women in rural and lower-middle-income societies make an economic contribution to agricultural and healthcare markets.
Mushroom cultivation is an income-generating activity. This, on the one hand, will develop self-reliance among the rural women and save them from tiring manual labour and, on the other hand, will provide them with more opportunities for improving the quality of family and community life by income generation.
He suggested that the government should provide technical support and training to willing farmers and advise them about germplasm preservation, strain and substrate improvement of cultivated mushrooms.
He said that mushrooms cultivation also requires different production systems. Some requires high investments, other less; but one must exceed a breakeven yield to be profitable. The most important factor in cultivation is the supply of pure culture spawn (seed). He said that locally available spawn is cheaper than imported one and gives equally good results as compared to imported spawns.