Entrepreneurship opportunities in Mushroom Culture

Aisha Sultana
Button Mushroom (Agaricus spp)is the most popular mushroom variety grown among, other varieties like oyster, almond (Agaricus subrufescus) and consumed the world over. Cultivation of button mushroom started in the 16th century. However, on a commercial scale, the cultivation was initiated in Europe around 17th century. India              has been producing mushroom, mainly for domestic market for more than fourdecades. Large scale white button mushroom production is centered in Europe, North America (USA, Canada) and South East Asia (China, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan and India). The national annual production of mushrooms is estimated to be around 50,000 tones with 85% of this production being of button mushroom. 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.

Mushroom farming can be apt for business. It can be profitable with low capital investment. Mushroom farming business will be the perfect option for a person who has little knowledge in the science and technology of mushroom growing and who owns a building for having the farm. Mushroom cultivation is an art which requires both study and experience.
An individual who wants to starthis own mushroom farming business must have undergone a technical training on mushroom farming to gain expertise.
Starting a small business like mushroom farming requiressomebusiness plan. Workouta detail budget, writeout a clean strategy and objectives of your business. What will be the variety you want to growand what will be your target market like domestic or export.
Different types of mushroom have different production cost and it is important to decide on a budget depending on amount of money available and the long term investment benefit. A good variety to start mushroom farming with- is the oyster mushroom. Other profitable and easy to grow varieties are shitake, lions Mane, White Button and Portobello.
Environment plays the most important role in mushroom farming business because different varieties require different kind of environment. For example oyster mushroom requires temperature of 15-20 degree, humidity of 80-90%, good ventilation, light and sanitation.
One can take up the business of spawn making/production for mushroom culture and act as the supplier of spawn to others who are growing mushroom on small or large scale as ready-to-use/inoculate spawn. Producing spawn can be cheaper in the long run, because the start up cost will be high in this case.
Substrate making can be come another source of business. Mushroom can be cultivated on a large number of agro-waste having cellulose and lign in that helps in more enzyme production of cellulose that is correlated with more yield.
You can use straw of paddy, wheat and ragi, stalk and leaves of maize, millet and cotton waste, dried grasses, used tea leaf waste, etc.
You can also use industrial waste like paper mill sludge, coffee by products, tobacco waste etc. Popular methods of substrate include steam pasteurization, hotwater treatment, fermentation of composting and chemical sterilization.
Alongwith spawn and substrate making one can opt for making of bags/Boxes/Trays which                        contain composting material for mushroom                     cultivation.
Availability of these ready-made bags / Boxes / Trays in the market makes mushroom cultivation much easier as one need not to prepare the compost material and more over it saves time. Processing and storage of mushroom can be an other option of an enterprise as this is labour consuming and skill oriented.
Freshly harvested mushroom can bestored at low temperature (0-5 degree)   for maximum 2 weeks, dried mushroom with 2-4% moisture can bestored for 3-4 months in scaled pouches without any change in taste. Marketing of high quality commercial                 cultivation of mushroom is a very profitable proposition a sit is in good demand both in domestic and foreign market.
You can go for local market penetration by making available your product  to the retailer and vegetable shop.The export market for India is mainly the USA,with some quantities going to UAE, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, UK and other countries
Hence we can say that mushroom cultivation/ farming can become a good source of income.
It provides livelihood to many poor families in one way or other because of low capital investmentit is affordable for everyone to take mushroom cultivation/farming as an enterprise. Mushroom farming if done in proper manner and with outmost care, mushroom farming can become an established and profitable enterprise.
(The author is Student B.Sc (Hons.)Agriculture SKUAST Jammu)