Mushrooms have been valued throughout the world as both food and medicine for thousands of years. They are rich source of nutrition and form major components of a perfect food for better management of health. Mushrooms are increasingly gaining acceptance in different Cuisines as well as in every day consumption. They have created a space in a common man’s kitchen. Also, current trend of mushroom consumption conveys the opportunity that lies in the area of domestic as well as export market. Despite all the favorable conditions, mushroom farming is not gaining momentum in several parts of India, including Kerala. The climatic and agro economic conditions are suitable for mushroom cultivation in Kerala. There are certain inherent problems or bottlenecks which hamper fast spread of mushroom farming in Kerala as in the case with other states of India. If these inherent problems are overcome, Kerala has the potential to become a major player in mushroom cultivation.
With this background, a one day national seminar on “Mushroom : Prospects & Problems” was organized on Tuesday, 8th February, 2011 at National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science & Technology (CSIR) , Pappnamcode, Trivandrum, Kerala, with a focus to promote the effective cultivation practices by addressing the issues and constraints in propagation and to create new market avenues by value addition . The seminar provided platform for sharing of knowledge and experience on prospects and problems in the mushroom cultivation and marketing, among government officials, scientists, mushroom growers, NGO’s, future mushroom entrepreneurs, to promote mushroom farming in Kerala.
The seminar was inaugurated by Mrs. Sarada Muraleedharan, IAS, Director, State Poverty Eradication Mission. In her address, while touching up on the significance of Mushroom cultivation as an avenue for under privileged in Kerala, she highlighted the current problems associated with mushroom cultivation. Dr. Suresh Das, Director, NIIST, presided over the function. He highlighted the initiatives taken by CSIR towards socio economic development of the under privileged through CSIR 800 programme. Dr. K. Prathapan, Mission Director, State Horticulture Mission, Kerala, in his key note address pointed out that there are great opportunities to have joint programmes between R & D institutes and Governmental agencies for out reach of the R&D efforts to the field. Mushroom cultivation, processing and generation of new market opportunities fits very well as an outreach programme to address techno & socio economic issues.
Around 120 registered participants from various folk of society participated in the seminar. The technical sessions addressed various aspects of mushroom cultivation, propagation and marketing and eminent scientists and experts from the respective fields shared their experience and views with the audience. Dr. Suharban, Head of the Department of Plant pathology, College of Agriculture Vellayani has highlighted about the prospects of mushroom cultivation in Kerala, emphasizing the suitability of the Oyster & Milky type mushrooms for agro climatic conditions of Kerala. The substrates for these mushrooms are paddy straw, banana pseudo stem and saw dust, which are abundant in Kerala. Dr. Anitha Mohan narrated that consumption of mushrooms can be promoted owing to their nutritional and healthcare properties. Mrs. Janaki Sreekumar, Swathishta Mushroom, explained the innovative steps taken by her to popularize mushroom based food products taking in to account the local taste requirements. Mr. Felix Mathew, Wonder Mushrooms, Ponkunnam, talked about the cultivation practices adopted for different types of medicinal mushrooms. Mr. Jose Prakash, President, Koonpura, spoke on mushroom propagation & related technical issues, pest management etc. Dr. A.K. Boddoloi, Scientist, NEIST, Jorhat, shared their experience on various aspects in cultivation of mushrooms in North East.
The technical session was followed by a valedictory session with the speakers as the panel to discuss about the action plan to address the issues in mushroom cultivation and propagation. The participants actively took part in the discussion and the following points emerged as the follow up action:
1. Development of standards for spawn production
2. Alternate substrate to address the shortage of paddy straw
3. Modification of the existing method to develop cost effective methods for cultivation
4. Effective pest management
5. Publicity and nutritional awareness for popularizing Mushroom
6. Development and popularization of value added products from mushroom
Post seminar discussion with the stake holders is on to work out the plan to realize the prospects on mushroom cultivation