A better awareness of the nutritional and medicinal values of mushrooms should be Propagated for cultivation and marketing purposes Sizeable income generating venture

Blessed with varied agro-climates, Indian weather is aptly suitable for the cultivation of mushrooms. While it is estimated that about 355 million tones of crop residue is generated annually, about 170 million is left out for burning and incorporating soil in manure form. Even if one per cent of this is used to produce mushrooms, India will become a major mushroom-producing country in the world say Shashi Kr. Thakur and Pratibha Kumari.

Mushrooms have achieved significant importance due to their nutritive and medicinal values and as an income-generating venture in more than 100 countries. World mushroom production at present is estimated to be around 5 million tones/annum and is increasing @ 7 per cent/ annum. In developed countries, particularly in Europe, Mushroom farming is a hitch industry.

Project for Mushroom: -

The Dutch, Irish, Italian technologies in button mushroom (Agarics Bosporus) production are worth noticing. European countries have Succeeded due to large-scale mushroom producing units with 10000-20,000 tones production capacities/ annum. This has also resulted in a high level of mechanization and computer controlled environment systems. Another aspect of mushroom industry in these countries is posting, spawn production and post harvest processing. This has also helped in achieving higher and consistent production. In spite of these advantages, the cost of production in these countries is higher, resulting in stagnation in production. This has opened opportunities for third-world countries to capitalize on the gap being created due to widening one between demand and supply. The mushroom consumption western country known as G6 is 85 per cent of the total world production viz. USA (30%). Germany (17%), U.K. (11%). France (11%), Italy (10%) and Canada (6%) and remaining 15% is consumed by the rest of the world. China is an example of success through low-cost community -based technology for mushroom production and diversification of mushroom species known as specialty mushrooms. This has also resulted in reducing the share of button mushroom substantially. The important varieties are Oyster (Plaurotus spp.) Shiite (Lentinula eddies) and wood ear (Auricular spp.) mushrooms.

India is blessed with varied agora-climates- from temperate, subtropical or tropical. This makes India suitable for the cultivation of different types of mushrooms Besides it is estimated that about 355 million tones of crop residue is generated annually and about 170 million is left out for burning and incorporating soil in manure form. If one per cent of this is used to produce mushrooms, India will become a major mushroom producing country in the world.

Though mushroom production started in 70's, it was during the 1990s that there was a sudden jump in its production of button mushroom, with the collaboration of foreign companies. This resulted in significant increase in mushroom production from 4000 tones (1985) to 30.000 tones (1995) and 40,000 tones (1997).

At present it is estimated to be 50,000-tones/ annum. The major share (85 percent) is contributed by button mushroom. Oyster mushroom is popular in southern states and Maharashtra and milky mushroom in T.N.A.P and Karnataka.

Button mushroom-----------------------------------------------

Production: - This variety is most popular both for production and consumption in India. Its production is at 3 levels.

A High tech: There are several projects set up in collaboration with foreign companies. However, many projects were closed due to following reasons.

B. Medium scale units: -

There are several units in and around big cities keeping in view the local market and doing well due to the fact that, the indigenously produced machineries are cheap and easy to repair and service.
These units also face problems, but manage to make profit due to low cost of machineries and lower level of over head expenses. Besides, they realize higher return in local market for the fresh product.

C. Seasonal farms: -

Winter season, particularly in northern states, is suitable for button mushroom cultivation. This has encouraged a lot of farmers in these states in general, and in Haryana in particular, to take up button mushroom production in temporary structures like thatched huts.

Though a few growers have better facilities like bulk chambers to produce quality compost, many depend on long method of composting, resulting in poor yield of even crop failure due to competitor moulds, diseases and insect pest. Lack of quality spawn is also a major problem for these farms. Since marketing is not organized, growers are exploited.

D. To enhance production and profit: -

  1. There should be regular monitoring of raw materials and their analysis for moisture, nitrogen content and C.N..
  2. The quality of gypsum is important. It should not be too acidic.
  3. In western countries indoor composting is mandatory to avoid pollution to environment This has also encouraged scientists to develop better and effective indoor composting process for successful cultivation of button mushrooms. It is noticed that Indoor composting helps to get quality compost resulting in better yield and consistency in production hence the Indoor Phase I should be mandatory for farms not only to protect environment but also to have better and consistent yield.
  4. Bulk chamber and compost filling area must be provided with Hepa filters to check contaminants.
  5. Spawn should be fee from contaminants, fresh and known for its yield and quality.
  6. Temperature probes must be checked before their use.
  7. Environmental conditions (Air, R.H. and Temperature) should be maintained as required during spawn run and cropping.
  8. Casing material like coir pith must be seasoned and leached with water to remove toxic substances, which may otherwise create problems in production.
  9. Seasonal growers should be mushroom production under centralized facilities like composting, bulk chamber, processing and marketing.

Oyster mushroom:-----------------------------------------------

Oyster mushroom production is being done on a small scale in different parts of the country in general and in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra it is most popular variety, next to button mushroom in the world.

Oyster mushroom production: Advantages

Oyster mushroom production: Disadvantages

If spore shedding is high, it may create allergy to certain people, hence one should harvest at the right time and use exhaust. Workers should also use masks. It is not popular in India though in international markets it is only next to button mushroom.

To enhance production and profit: -

Though Oyster mushroom production is quite easy, it faces problems in cultivation due to faulty cultivation and poor hygiene. The following steps should be followed to get higher and consistent production

  1. Substrate should be fresh and dry.
  2. Soaking should be for a short duration (6-8 hours). Pasteurization procedure should be strictly followed to eliminate microbes and insect pests.
  3. Spawn should be free from contamination and fresh.
  4. Bag/cylinder filling and spawning should be done in aseptic condition and if possible Hepa filter should be used in spawning is over, there should not be any opening. If holes are providing, these should be plugged with cotton to restrict entry of insects. In cylinder system, PVC pipe's opened ends should also be plugged with cotton or nylon net.
  5. During spawn- run and cropping bags/ cylinders should be protected from rats. During cropping, exhaust fans should be used and ventilators should be provided with nylon net and iron mesh. Required R.H. should be maintained, preferably with fine sprinkles and should also be operated as and when the exhaust works.
  6. Facilities for drying and value added product preparation should be available either at the farm or at a central place to be utilized by community.
  7. Market should be created and promoted for both fresh and processed and value added products.

Milky mushroom:-------------------------------------------------

Milky mushroom is an attractive white mushroom and its cultivation has become popular in Tamil Nadu on a commercial scale. This variety is tropical in nature and can be grown when button and oyster mushroom cannot be grown due to high temperature.

Milky mushroom production: Advantages

To enhance production and profit:-

  1. Fresh and well-dried substrate should be used.
  2. Pasteurization procedure should be strictly followed to eliminate microbes and insect pests.
  3. Bag filling and spawning area should be aseptic and if possible. Hepa filter should be used.
  4. Bags after spawning should be closed with PVC ring and plugged with cotton. If holes are provided, these should be plugged with cotton.
  5. Casing material should be alkaline and must be pasteurized, either with for maldehyde of steam.
  6. Cropping room should be providing with cross ventilators and sprinklers to maintain the required R.H.
  7. Ventilators should be provided with nylon net and iron mesh to protect against insects and room should be rat proof.
  8. Facilities should be provided for processing and to prepare value added products.
  9. Market should be created and promoted for both fresh and value added products.

Mushroom production in general: Advantages

  1. Mushroom production does not require agricultural land and can be done on waste and unproductive land Since it is done indoors, one car utilize vertical space of higher productivity.
  2. Agricultural/forest wastes can be utilized to produce quality food through mushroom production. Besides, mushrooms have high bio-efficacy (upto100%) i.e. conversion of dried wastes into fresh mushrooms.
  3. Helps to recycle agricultural wastes. Spent mushroom substrate (SMS) can be used as feed for animals and to produce organic manure/vermin-compost.
  4. It can generate self- employment.
  5. Families can be brought above private line and improving their Socio-economic status through mushroom production.
  6. It can provide nutritional security particularly to poor families through incorporating mushroom in their diets.

Promoting mushroom cultivation

  1. Government should constitute a high power committee to review the reason for several E.O.U.s and suggest remedies to revive the same.
  2. Mushroom production should be declared agricultural/ horticultural activity and electricity should be provided as for agriculture.
  3. Develop machinery and equipment required for mushroom production indigenously.
  4. Identify strains suitable for fresh and processed market.
  5. Establish strong link between R&D and mushroom industry.
  6. Research activities should be intensify on Indoor phase I, casing material, packaging and marketing should be strengthened.
  7. Value -added products viz., pickle; soup powder etc. should be developed and promoted.
  8. Awareness should be created about the nutritional and medicinal values of mushrooms.
  9. Diversification is required to explore the possibility of other promising varieties for their production.
  10. Government should provide concessions/ subsidy to prompt mushroom production.