The mushroom business in the Philippines is apparently a burgeoning business with enormous commercial potential in as much as it targets a basic need: food. There is also a claim, on the contrary, that its present cultivation in this country is limited, perhaps due to the limited local knowledge about its culture.
But at the heart of the Manila metropolis in Boni Avenue is a dynamic and bracing research center of Rizal Technological University that is taming and developing mushrooms in underground passageways. These channels are valued historically where they were used by World War II soldiers to transport themselves inconspicuously to and from adjoining towns from their attack or defense or simply to escape from enemy troops.
Finding the tunnels apposite for other purposes has given them modern-day worth. The tunnels are regarded to impact positively and directly to the local mushroom industry.
Cultured inside the adobe-made tunnels are edible mushrooms species that grow in semi-temperate areas like Pleurotus sp. (oyster or abalone mushrooms), Auricularia sp. (ear fungi), Agaricus bisporus (tropical white button mushrooms), Volvariela volvacea (rice straw or banana mushrooms), and Lentinus edodes (shiitake or brown or black Japanese mushrooms).
Moreover, the culture of medicinal mushrooms is gaining its popularity abroad. “That is why the research center is now starting to cultivate mushrooms which have therapeutic applicationsâ€”like the Ganoderma lucidumâ€”to parallel our innovation with those in foreign lands,” says Angelita Medalla, a university’s faculty researcher and mushroom specialist.
Mushroom growing can be made double in a cooperative where division of labor can be resourcefully practiced.
Mushrooms are fungi characterized by the presence of gills under the umbrella-shaped cap called pileus. Some have the presence of rings; others have none. Some grow in mass or in clusters; others develop in singles or in pairs. Others thrive well on cool weather, some in warm places. Like plants, mushrooms have seeds responsible for propagating the species. They produce spores like all fungi. These spores are very diminutive and microscopic that they disperse and disseminate through the air with the wind. When they happen to fall on a suitable agricultural waste, these spores germinate and develop into mycelium. If the conditions are favorable, it continues to grow, ramify and develop into mushrooms.
Why Grow Mushrooms?
Medalla stresses that edible mushrooms are good sources of high-quality protein. “They can be produced with greater biological efficiency and have an important role in elevating the diet of people enduring from protein deficiency,” she says, adding that they can represent a source of high-value metabolites like anti-tumor or cancer agents.
There is also a reason that one of the most cost-effectively practical processes for biocon-version of agricultural and industrial lingo cellulosic wastes is the cultivation of edible mushroom. “This is extremely important in rural areas where there are available large quantities of agricultural wastes ideally suited for growing different types of edible mushrooms,” Medalla exemplifies.
Furthermore, the substrate (or agricultural waste) residues that are left after harvesting mushrooms can be converted into feedstock to ruminants and used as soil conditioners. Medalla articulates they can help increase the income in the rural and urban areas, improving the social status of unemployed people.
Economics of Cultivation
Mushroom cultivation is an income-generating activity that can be done both in rural and urban areas. Mushrooms can be grown on commercial or small scale using either highly urbane equipment or low-cost materials and agricultural wastes.
The choice of species and technology, according to Medalla, will depend on the conditions prevailing in the place where one prefers to grow the mushrooms, the availability of the substrate to be used and the availability and amount of capital.
Medalla suggests that mushroom growing can be made doable in a cooperative where division of labor can be adroitly practiced. “There is a group that can be engaged in spawn production, substrate preparation, planting or inoculation, fruiting, harvesting, processing and marketing aspects,” she says.
Mushroom production is a complicated business. It involves a number of complicated steps and operations like the pure culture preparation (the selection of the acceptable fruiting culture of the mushroom); the planting material preparation; the substrate preparation where mushrooms will be grown; the actual planting or the inoculation of the substrate; and the harvesting, processing and marketing.