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Entrepreneurship development through Spawn and Mushroom production in Nagaland

People today love to eat mushrooms...isn’t it!!! The health conscious generation is very much interested to include mushrooms in their diet. As it is protein enriched, the vegetarians prefer to eat mushrooms instead of meat and chicken.

Chander Mohan

People today love to eat mushrooms...isn’t it!!! The health-conscious generation is very much interested to include mushrooms in their diet. As it is protein enriched, the vegetarians prefer to eat mushrooms instead of meat and chicken.  

Mushroom is the mobile medicine supplement in the era of modern social health-conscious society. This very property has made the mushroom the commercial proposition for cultivation. The mushrooms can grow naturally and in the room controlled temperature these can grow in the waste material and also fetches a good price in the market.  Mushroom is an excellent source of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fibers, minerals, folic acid and is a good source of iron for anemic patients and is described as one of the best options to convert agro-wastes into quality proteins. The mushroom can be taken by the diabetic and heart patients as it has low calorific value. 

Commercial mushroom cultivation in India has started recently and growing mushroom under controlled condition is of recent origin. Its popularity is increasing day by day and it has become a business which is export-oriented. Today mushroom cultivation has been taken up commercially in states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, etc. (during winter months) while earlier it was confined to Himachal Pradesh, J&K and other hilly areas. 

group of fungi. Mushroom cultivation was started in the 16th century but on a commercial scale it was started in Europe in 17th century and many farms for the mushroom production were established. India with the diverse climate conditions and abundant agricultural wastes has been producing the mushroom from the last four decades.  

Mushrooms are of different types:

(1) Button Mushroom (Agricus bisporus)
(2) Dhingri (Pleurortus)
(3) Milky mushroom (Calocybe indica).

Of all the types, button mushroom is the most popular one (85 percent). Mushroom cultivation can be done at cottage and small-scale levels besides large-scale farming. Mushroom cultivation provides option for income and employment generation especially for the educated youths and women without any major arable resources. China claims to grow 60 types of mushrooms and the reported production of all mushrooms put together was 18.2 million tonnes in 2008 which was around 70 percent of world production. 

Initially there were very few quality strains of mushroom. S-11 was introduced in mid 60s continues in use for 2-3 decades and is still used by the seasonal growers. Presently Krishi Vigyan Kendras(KVKs) of State Agricultural Universities(SAUs) and Horticultural Boards are playing a big role in popularizing mushroom cultivation among the farmers. 

Spawn is mushroom seed. Spawns are available in the Directorate of Agriculture and State Agricultural Universities(SAUs). If desired, the same can be produced and sold commercially. There are two methods of composting for mushroom cultivation. One is long method and another is short method. Short method requires less time but it is costly.  

Most of the growers still use the long method for the compost making which leads to the poor yield and also requires indiscriminate use of chemicals. There is need to diversify and popularize different types of mushrooms and go for multifunctional use of mushroom tunnels. These tunnels should not only be used for pasteurize compost for button but can also be used for pasteurizing straw for oyster, milky and button mushrooms cultivation. This will help in product diversification and there will be less use of power. 

There are several mixtures for compost formation and anyone that suits the entrepreneur can be chosen. It is prepared by using wheat/paddy straw into which various ingredients are added. In synthetic compost wheat straw is supplemented with poultry manure, urea, gypsum and mustard oil cake. In organic compost, horse dung is added. The compost can be prepared by the long or short composting methods. Only those who have pasteurizing facility can employ short cut method. In long method 7-8 turns at regular intervals are required for a period of 28 days. Good compost is dark-brown, ammonia free, little greasiness and having 65-70 percent moisture. 

Mushroom seed is said to be spawn which is white in colour. It should be free from any disease and insect-pests. Before spawning the surface should be washed with 2 percent formalin. For mixing spawn with compost any of the three procedures can be followed: (i) Compost is divided into equal layers and spawns spread in each layer. Result is spawning in different layers. (ii) 3 to 5 cms of compost is remixed, spawns spread and covered with compost. (iii) Spawns are mixed with compost and pressed. A bottle of spawns is good enough for 35 kg of compost spread over 0.75 sq.mt. area (about 2 trays). That is, spawn to compost ratio is 0.5 percent. Trays are then arranged in tiers in the cropping room and covered with newspapers. 2 percent formalin is sprinkled over them. Desired room temperature should be around 18 degree C with 95 percent humidity. Spawned compost is covered with suitable material is said to be casing. It helps to convert vegetative phase into reproductive phase. Besides temperature and humidity mentioned above, proper room ventilation should be ensured. 

After casing mushroom bags should be kept moistened. Mushrooms prop up in 30-35 days. These fungal fruit bodies appear in flushes and harvested when buttons are tightly closed. In a cropping cycle of 8-10 weeks an average yield of 10 kg mushroom/sq. metre is feasible. Cropped mushrooms can be packed for marketing. 

Technical training and assistance can be taken from. (a) Krishi Vigyan Kendras(KVKs) of State Agricultural Universities (SAUs)(b) Rashtriya Anusandhan Evam Prashikshan Kendra, Chambaghat, Solan (H.P.).
(c) Regional Research Lab, Jorhat, Assam.
(d) Regional Research Lab, Jammu.
(e) Central Food Technology Research Institute, Cheluvamba Mansion, Mysore etc. Raw materials should be procured preferably from local areas. It has been observed that the mushrooms are having good demand in the market.

Mushrooms cultivation requires awareness on modern production technology and health benefits, product diversification, better transportation with cold chain facilities, cooperatives, incorporation of mushroom in Indian food habits, introduction of mushrooms in mid-day meal scheme in schools and dissemination of information for scientific mushrooms cultivation through electronic media. There is ample scope of integrating mushroom farming in existing integrated farming system. There is need of simple scientific technology, better strains and more value addition methods of mushrooms for the mushroom growers. There is need to organize the trade and marketing of mushrooms within the state and country. 

Here is a success story of the Nagaland farmer who is earning Rs.35, 000 to Rs.50, 000 through mushroom cultivation. 

Shri Rajib Mondal of Dimapur started mushroom cultivation by understanding the scope and opportunities. He became a spawn and mushroom producing entrepreneur in Nagaland with the help of ICAR Nagaland Centre. He also established a low cost mushroom cultivation unit and started producing mushroom spawn to mitigate the problem of spawn availability in Nagaland. 

He used bajra and wheat as a substrate instead of paddy straw to reduce time period for spawn preparation as well as mushroom production for higher profit. During the season, around 650-700 spawn packets (200 g/packet) per month were produced. Out of which, around 300-400 packets of spawn/ month were sold to farmers of Nagaland fetching Rs 8, 750.00.  He utilized remaining packets of spawn for mushroom cultivation. He is able to produce around 360 kg of oyster mushroom and earns around Rs 36, 000/month. His total income is Rs 44,750.00/ month from selling spawn and mushroom. He supplies mushroom to Dimapur, Wokha, Mokokchung district of Nagaland regularly and also to other districts when the production is more. 

Mushroom production and marketing has great prospect in Nagaland as mushroom availability in Nagaland is very less. Shri Mondal is now a successful mushroom grower and commercial producer of mushroom spawn in Nagaland.  He is planning to grow other types of mushroom especially button mushroom. He also adopted the liquid spawn production technology to produce more spawn in less time and reduce the contamination for getting quality spawn. He was felicitated by ICAR Nagaland Centre for adopting innovative technology for spawn production. 

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