November 18, 2017

How Mushroom Farming Mushrooms Millionaires!

How Mushroom Farming Mushrooms Millionaires!

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.

mushrooms

mushrooms (Photo credit: outpostbabu)

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.

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