MUSHROOMS are the edible fleshy fruiting bodies of certain fungi, which in our villages are gathered wild by women and children who through their expertise are able to distinguish the edible from the poisonous ones. Mushrooms can be commercially grown both for local consumption and export market under controlled scientific conditions.
Mushrooms, being fungi, have not the green material called chlorophyll, a very important ingredient, which enables other plants to manufacture their food. Because of this absence of chlorophyll in their lives, mushrooms have to depend entirely for their nutrients on organic foods or decaying materials. These #nutrients are usually provided by a mushroom-growing medium called substrates of compost.
Generally mushrooms are a seasonal vegetable which thrive more noticeably in our rural areas during the rainy season when women and children go with their baskets round the forests and such very humid and dark places to gather (harvest) skillfully the mushrooms that have sprouted, grown and matured there. The quantities gathered are not anything to satisfy even the families of those who gather them. However greater quantities can be and are usually grown on a large scale (commercial basis) both to cater for local use and for export. Under this method, the problems of seasonality of supply of mushrooms and hence the scarcity and consequent skyrocketing of prices are overcome to a reasonably high extent.
In Igboland mushrooms are called ero or elo while in Yorubaland it is olu. To the connoisseurs of mushroom, the meaty vegetable is a delicacy eaten more for its nutritive value (because it is said to contain a high percentage of protein) than for its medicinal value. In reality recent scientific researches (both local and international) are churning out an array of inherent chemicals in mushrooms, which hold great medicinal potentials in providing solutions to such debilitating diseases as diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, heart disease, hypertension, influenza, common cold, arthritis, gallstone etc.
Mushrooms are heavily consumed in such countries as China , Japan , and other Asian countries as food and medicine. But here in Nigeria, they are consumed for their nutritive functions. However many people are now accepting them for the medicinal uses to which they are put. Attitudes are now fast changing and consumers want mushrooms overseas.
Different Species Of Mushrooms
Many hundreds of mushroom species have been recorded to exist. Generally, no fewer than 100 of these species are used by traditional medicine practitioners, according to reports, to form remedies for a wide variety of ailments. These preparations are taken by way of powdered concentrates or extracts in hot water drinks. In China , mushrooms have been used for medical purposes for thousands of years. Common species of mushroom that can be found locally here in Nigeria are more than 27 in number.
Poisonous Mushrooms And How To Identify Them
Inspite of all the good things said about the food, medicinal and industrial uses of mushrooms, it is important to note that not all the species are safe for human consumption. Some of them are so poisonous that they can kill instantaneously. In fact it is the fear of this inherent characteristic that is responsible more than anything else for the low consumption and farming of mushrooms in this part of the continent.
This fear notwithstanding, there are ways of overcoming the danger of consuming poisonous mushrooms. The most common, important and immediate way of testing the safety of the mushrooms you intend to consume is to drop some for the local chickens to eat. If they pick and swallow them without dying then they are safe for consumption. If they don’t pick them then run as fast as your legs can carry you for they are not safe.
Medicinal And Food Uses Of Mushrooms
Mushrooms contain too much of nutrients to be neglected. They contain on dry matter basis 25-50% of protein and because of this high protein content, they have been substituted for meat in some parts of the world. In fact they taste like meat and can be used in soup as vegetable. The quality of mushroom protein is valued better than that of cereal grains and legumes because all the nine amino acids are present. Some of the bio-chemical contents include vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and D, fat, fibre, nucleia acid, water content, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium etc. And because they take a short time, are easy and cheap to produce, they have found special favour with the connoisseurs of the vegetable.
Mushrooms nourish the body and brain, make man ageless and as vegetable that has been recognized a long time ago by the orientals for what they are –they have been known to extend one’s life. In fact some people have been claimed to have lived up to 100 years because of their regular consumption of mushrooms.
Researches carried out by scientists both in Nigeria and other parts of the world attest to the fact that mushrooms boast of a lot that mankind can benefit from especially when it comes to their medicinal uses. Because of space limitation, the list and detailed explanations of over 28 medicinal, food and industrial uses of mushrooms and their by-products will not be given here.
Cockroaches and mushrooms share a common bio-chemical property called chitin, which is extracted and sold for over six use in various industries. Edible Mushroom Cultivation MediaMushrooms being fungi, do not produce chlorophyll and so have to depend for their food supplies on supplies made by their cultivation media called substrates. Such substrates include agricultural and other industrial wastes like rice brain, straw and husk, maize cobs, chaff and stover, and plantain and banana trunks and leaves, sugar cane bagasse, cottonseed hulls, different types of grass, saw dust etc.
To be successful in mushroom farming great care has to be taken to ensure that temperature, humidity, water spraying, nitrogen supplementation and conditioning agent addition etc. are all done at the right time quality/condition and quantity as the case may be. Raw Materials For Mushroom FarmingSpawn is the mushroom propagating material. It contains mushroom spores and a mixture of other materials to promote spawning. Spores are the seeds with which mushrooms are grown just like the cassava stems that are cut and used for planting cassava or miniset yam seeds that are planted in the case of yams. Without these spores you cannot produce your desired mushrooms.
The process of growing non-poisonous spores in large quantities in the laboratory for propagation to interested farmers to use them as both their foundation and expansion stock is known as spawning. The spawns or spores after they have been hygienically prepared can be preserved until they are needed for planting. There are local sources of spawns just as you can have them imported and spawned here in the country. There are many methods, which the farmer can employ in spawning to supply his farm as well as sell to other farmers to make money.
The major product from mushroom farms is the meaty, fruity mushroom itself. Unknown to many people, there are by-products of this enterprise that command great commercial value. These are: spent compost, a derivative of mushroom called chittin. This has over 6 food and industrial uses. Mushroom Yield The yield is usually quoted in kilogrammes of mushrooms per square meter of compost. An average yield of 16kg/m (15cm deep compost) over a picking period or time of six weeks is considered ideal.
Diseases And Pets Of Mushrooms, Cure And Control
There are some diseases and pests that afflict the mushrooms. You need to know how to prevent their occurrence and how to cure them. Doing this will reduce or eliminate the adverse effects of the diseases and pests on the developing, growing and harvesting of mushrooms and on the profit of the business These pests and diseases and the solution to their menace can be grouped into the following broad groups. They are: virus, moulds,.bacteria, and animal parasites As an investment opportunity, mushroom farming is a very profitable venture, no matter the level of investment involved.
The payback period is pleasantly short. This lasts between 3 months and 12 months depending on the type of mushroom. During this time range you will not only recover your investment but also make handsome profit from the venture. If you still want to be convinced about the need for commencing the project or of its profitability you’d be informed that the President of one of the ECOWAS states is into it (for export) on a large scale that involves the farm being fully airconditioned. Are you still playing the Thomas? If so, then you may have a long waiting to do on the ever-lengthening employment seekers’ queue.
It is good to play the Job when writing hundreds, possibly thousands of job letters where you “beg to apply” instead of settling down with this easy-to-start, profitable agribusiness that will help you build up your business capital, feed yourself and your family, get others employed and launch you en route your financial independence. For detailed start up guide send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Key is in your hand, Use It.