Mushroomers - The Blind Youth Project Produce
Organic Mushrooms from the River Island of Chhoto Shalbari, Coochbehar - Blind Youth Project
Introduction: Button Mushroom (Agaricus spp.) is the most popular mushroom variety grown and consumed the world over. In India, its production earlier was limited to the winter season, but with technology development, these are produced almost throughout the year in small, medium and large farms, adopting different levels of technology. The species being grown in most farms is the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) belonging to Class Basidiomycetes and Family Agaricaceae.
Origin: Cultivation of button mushrooms (A.bisporus) started in the sixteenth century. However, on a commercial scale, the cultivation was initiated in Europe around 17th Century. Many farms for production of button mushrooms were established and this variety still dominates the world production and consumption. India, with its diverse agroclimate conditions and abundance of agricultural wastes, has been producing mushrooms, mainly for the domestic market, for more than four decades. Commercial production picked up in the nineties and several hi-tech export oriented farms were set up with foreign technology collaborations. But major share of mushroom production is still on small farms.
Economic Importance: Mushrooms are highly proteinaceous and are used as food. The white button mushroom is sold as fresh mushroom or is canned and made into soups, sauces and other food products. Protein in mushrooms have 60-70 % digestibility and contains all the essential amino acids. It has medicinal properties also. A high amount of retene is present in the button mushroom which is supposed to have an antagonistic effect on some forms of tumours.
Origin: Cultivation of a sp. of oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) was initiated on experimental basis in Germany by Flack during the year 1917 on tree stumps and wood logs. Growing technology was perfected in USA by Block, Tsao and Hau. Cultivation of different varieties of oyster mushroom was initiated in India in the early sixties. Commercial cultivation began in mid-seventies.
Botanical Description: The oyster mushrooms have three distinct parts- a fleshy shell or spatula shaped cap (pileus) , a short or long lateral or central stalk called stipe and long ridges and furrows underneath the pileus called gills or lamellae. The gills stretch from the edge of the cap down to the stalk and bear the spores. The spores are smooth, cylindrical and germinate very easily on any kind of mycological media within 48-96 hrs. The mycelium of Pleurotus is pure white in colour.
Production: Oyster mushrooms are the third largest cultivated mushroom. China, the world leader in Oyster production, contributes nearly 85% of the total world production of about a million tonnes. The other countries producing oyster mushrooms include Korea, Japan, Italy, Taiwan, Thailand and Phillipines. The present production of this crop in India is only around 1500 tonnes due to low domestic demand. Another inhibiting factor is that export demand orders are large and can be met only if a linkage is developed between producer, cooperatives and exporters.
Economic Importance: The economic importance of the mushroom lies primarily in its use as food for human consumption. It is rich in Vitamin C and B complex and the protein content varies between 1.6 to 2.5 percent. It has most of the mineral salts required by the human body. The niacin content is about ten times higher than any other vegetables.
The folic acid present in oyster mushrooms helps to cure anemia. It is suitable for people with hyper-tension, obesity and diabetes due to its low sodium : potassium ratio, starch, fat and calorific value. Alkaline ash and high fibre content makes them suitable for consumption for those having hyperacidity and constipation. A polycyclic aromatic compound pleurotin has been isolated from P. griseus which possess antibiotic properties.
The spent straw can be re-cycled for growing oyster mushroom after supplementing with wheat or rice bran @ 10-15 % and also for preparing compost of white button mushroom after suitable supplementation with nitrogen rich horse or chicken manure (sun-dried before use). The spent straw can be used as cattle feed and also for bio-gas production, The slurry can be used as manure.