Mushroom Farming Introduction and Importance

Mushroom Farming Introduction and Importance
Mushroom Farming
Mushroom is a nutritious diet but has been given less importance due to various conception exist in society and lack of knowledge about its importance. This can easily be made available and even can be grown with significantly low effort and actions. Mushrooms being a highly nutritious and tasty diet, it wise to consume these nutritious in a regular basis and this can be made available regularly through artificial farming based on technology. Besides being part of nutrition this can also be an important source of income. Out of this, a nice income-generating business can be operated in a small area with significantly lower investment. Using local sources and raw materials self-employment businesses can be created with Mushroom Farming. Since growing mushrooms do not require expensive equipment and when farming started with a small startup, costs can be quite affordable. You can produce mushrooms on your own in your home by buying ready to inoculate spawn and substrate from the market or by using your own spawn using sterile culture. Straw is generally the preferred medium to grow the mushroom. You have to prepare the substrate by chopping the straw into short pieces, sterilizing, sowing spawn, incubating, fruiting and harvesting. The detail about the procedure to grow the Mushroom would separately be covered in different posts in our future updates. Different mushroom species followed different farming procedures to grow. The common things to consider to grow any mushroom is to maintain a hygienic environment, frequent spraying of water during germination/sprouting, maintaining temperature and humidity, even manage dark greenhouse for maintaining temperature and humidity. 

What is a Mushroom?

The mushroom mostly grows during the rainy season here and there, in forest, hill, on the tree, and below the tree, on the ground, on garbages, etc. we can see white, brown, or ash color different size fleshy structure grown, which is called 'Mushroom' and its called 'Chau' in the Nepali language. These are conspicuous umbrella-shaped, fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodies of a fungus typically of order Agaricales in the phylum Basidiomycota and some in the phylum Agaricomycetes that grows above ground on soil or on its food source. Mushrooms are edible fungus that provides important nutrients with varying composition and nutritional profiles depending on their kind.

Some commonly cultivated mushroom species in Nepal are Agaricus bisporum (Gobre Chyau), Pleurotus sajor caju (Kanne chyau), Laccaria leccata (wood mushroom), Oyster, Volvarilla, Shitake, Ganodirma, etc. Mushroom forms with spider net-like thin string called 'mycelium'. These tiny mushrooms and their spores are found naturally in a tree trunk, leaves in the ground in an inactive state. But when it receives temperature, relative humidity in its required amount its grows and gives its fruit which is a fully grown mushroom. Mushroom is the Fibrous and nutritious diet. 

Mushroom Historical Background

It can be assumed that Mushroom has been consumed since time immemorial in the prehistorical time since mankind begins to evolve. Our old religious script has mentioned its use. Egyptians believed mushrooms to be plants of immortality, Romans thought mushrooms were the food of the gods. Mind-altering mushrooms were used in religious ceremonies in ancient Mexico. The archaeological sites in Chile show the association of edible mushrooms with humans back 13,000 years ago.

Observing recent recorded history, it was found that in the 17 century, France has begun Mushroom Farming. The mushrooms cultivation history was recorded in Western cultures first recorded in 1650. Agaricus bisporus was the first species cultivated on compost. Now, the main countries producing mushrooms are England, America, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India, etc. In Nepal, mushroom farming has developed since 2027 B.S. by Seed Science Section at Khumaltar, and then since 2030 B.S. commercial farming begins among farmers. 

Mushroom Life Cycle

Mushroom have unique life cycle depending on its size and the environment it lives in. The mushroom Life cycle begins from spore germination giving fine fungal filaments known as hyphae. The hyphae compatible mate to create fertile mycelium.  Then the mycelium begins to expand in an exponential way breaking down organic matter and absorbing nutrients from the surrounding. In few days, it develops as a matured mushroom. The life cycle of fungi can follow many different patterns.

Mushroom Life Cycle is considered to go through a four-stage; spore, germ, hyphae, mature mycelium. Small mushroom can grows in 1 day while medium to larger sized takes 3-4 days. Composting, spawning, casing, pinning, and cropping are stages in a naturally occurring sequence. Compost provides nutrients for the mushroom to grown. The growth of mushroom is too quick compare to other plants and animals because other plants and animal grow its size producing more cells through cell division which required lots of energy and the process is relatively slow. While the growth of mushroom occurs through cell enlargement, that means as soon as it starts to develops a mushroom already have almost the same number of cells that the mature mushroom have so, the mushroom cells can balloon up very rapidly which required very little energy as cells just enlarge with water. When water pumped into cells mushroom increases its size. Almost overnight a mushroom can go from pin head to large mushroom.

Importance of Mushroom

Our society heavily depends on a vegetarian diet for nutritional fulfillment. Also, from the point of social and economical view, the problem of malnutrition appears everywhere. Whereas Mushroom on other hand can provide necessary nutrients for our body in sufficient quantity and qualities. The nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals can be obtained. Consuming the mushroom can fulfill the nutritional requirements of our body easily. Also, due to the medicinal value of mushrooms nowadays, the mushroom is getting attention, increasing consumption and demand.

Mushroom cultivation helps to improve economical status of poor and marginalized community to make their living through the reliable source of income generating from farming and nutritious source of food for their nutrtional value. The mushroom low in calories, great source of fiber and protein (good for plant-based diets). Also, provides important nutrients including B vitaminis, selenium, potassium, copper, and Vitamin D as well when exposed to sunlight. Mushrooms are not popular due to nutritional value alone rather they are popular for their delicacy and flavor. Mushrooms can help to solve problems of malnutrition and diseases inaddition to their high food value and their medicinal properties.