MK Farm – growers and suppliers of fresh and dehydrated oyster mushrooms

Growers and suppliers of fresh and dehydrated oyster mushrooms. Provides technical and marketing assistance to fellow farmers to earn better with mushroom farming

“I want farmers to earn 365 days in a year and have good health! It can be attained only when they do farming for all 12 months, cultivate crops other than rice and quit use of chemicals. It is practically possible through oyster mushroom farming,” says Mr. Pragnesh Patel, founder, MK Farm. He travelled to different countries and worked in pharma industry in India but left all the luxuries to help farmer earn better! “My Khergam village is located in the remote area of Navsari district, Gujarat. Farmers are unknown to various opportunities in agriculture that can lead to prospective life. Being educated and having experience of the consumer world I decided to find solution to improve their income. After intense research and series of experiments my search concluded at oyster mushroom,” he adds.

Oyster mushroom is cultivated without any use of chemicals, requires low investment and yields in just 18-20 days. “It surely is cost efficient and technically simple when compared with button or milky mushroom. So I choose cultivating oyster mushroom,” he asserts.

Pragnesh Patel- pic 1

When asked about the investment for infrastructure, he elucidates, “Considering all the constraints and challenges I have developed the shed with bamboo and covered all four sides with jute bags. It is an inexpensive deal on infrastructure for all. By spraying water on jute bags once in morning and evening the temperature can be easily brought down to 18-28 degree. During summers water needs to be sprayed in afternoon as well. Jute has water retention capacity so it keeps the shed cool. Lastly the mushroom bed is made from rice or wheat straw. It is locally available in the village as farmers cultivate paddy every year.” He purchases spawns at Rs. 110—120/kg from Gujarat based supplier. In his first production he produced 100 kg oyster mushroom. Now from next month monthly production of oyster in his farm would be 1 ton. “So far the investment made is Rs. 17 thousand only on the infrastructure precisely the shed.”

In Khergam village farmers grow only rice for three months and rest nine months the fields are left idle. Also the diet of villagers is mostly dominated by rice, wheat and handful of vegetables. “Thus, in order to provide some source of nutrition to them especially children I thought to sell oyster mushroom locally. It is healthy as grown naturally and is packed with vital nutrients and vitamins. To increase the awareness and demand I circulated pamphlets in local language Gujarati with health benefits of eating oyster mushroom on one side while recipes on the other side. The demand picked up and I am able to sell most of the produce,” he highlights. It is sold at Rs. 200/kg, packed in 250 gram pack. He is selling mushroom in small quantities in nearby cities as well through vegetable vendors.

M K farm - pic 2

Mr. Patel recommends farmers to start with minimum investment and limited production capacity. They can expand after getting convinced with the results attained. “Farmer can commence oyster mushroom farming with only five beds of 2*2 feet size. One kg of spawn when grown in these five beds (approx 200 gram spawns used in every bed) yields minimum 1.5-2 kg fresh mushroom from each bed,” he assures.

After creating the low-cost production model and stable market for the oyster mushroom Mr. Patel encouraged other farmers to try this new crop to improve their income. “Presently there are 25 farmers in the network who are soon going to start oyster mushroom farming while 30 other farmers will take up training. I shall provide not only the technical guidance (on shed construction, mushroom beds and production intricacies) and spawns but also buy back their produce if they can’t sell in the local market,” he affirms. Once oyster mushroom production is increased in the village then he shall start supplying in the cities to the shopping malls too.

pragnesh patel- pic 3

As the shelf life of mushroom is very short so it is dried up in the solar dryer and sold as dehydrated mushroom at the price of Rs. 1000/kg. “Demand of dehydrated mushroom is high as it can be stored and used for 12 months. It needs to be soaked in luke warm water for 10 minutes and it becomes just as fresh mushroom, ready to use! Mostly hotels and restaurants have huge requirement of dehydrated mushrooms.”

In time to come Mr. Patel plans to make value added products from oyster mushroom namely soup, pickle and His next plan is to develop oyster mushroom kit that would include bed and spawns. It shall be sold for Rs. 70/kit. “It would be suitable for urban consumers too who regularly eat oyster mushrooms. They just need to water the bed and harvest fresh mushroom till 30-40 days,” he states. Along with mushroom farming Mr. Patel is also doing experimental farming of growing exotic vegetables in poly-house. “Once the model is standardized I shall share it with the farmers too because I really want to improve their livelihood. I want them to focus on production and all running around for marketing I shall do it. My end goal is to put off the depressed mood of the farmers and entire village forever and see them all flourished and happy,” he signs off.

Contact details:
MK Farm
Chowki Faliyu, At Post Bahej, Khergam, Navsari District, Gujarat 396040, India
Mobile: 076229 18188, 099252 29362
Email: mkfarmorganic@gmail.com
Web: http://mk-farm-organic.business.site

Mahendra Pal Gangwar – scales up family business of mushroom farming and opens new doors of growth for fellow farmers

Leaves cushy job to join family business of mushroom farming. Expands operations by establishing farmers group with 200 plus active farmer members

“There is nothing like working for yourself! Besides I wanted to do something more meaningful than just increasing the annual turnover of a MNC. Thus in 2013 I left the job in Delhi and joined my family business of mushroom cultivation. I was having reasonably good know-how of the business and it was progressing well. However after I joined I increased the production capacity (oyster:200 quintal, button:50-70 quintal and milky:50-60) and made the operations more organized. All was fine but I observed fellow mushroom growing farmers in my village and neighboring areas faced the problems in production and marketing. Also I wanted to bring down the production cost for everyone. Therefore I thought to form the farmers group and work collectively,” shares Mr. Mahendra Pal Gangwar, progressive farmer and founder member, Leeward Golden Mushroom Farmer Producer Company (LGMFPCL). It is located at Kuraiya village, Berkheda, Pilibhit district, Uttar Pradesh.

Presently there are 200+ active farmer members in the group. Only prerequisite to become member of the group is that farming should be his/her livelihood. The main season for growing mushroom is September to April. Commonly the farmers grow four varieties namely oyster mushroom (growing period- one month), button mushroom ( 65-70 days), milky mushroom( 65-70 days), and puaal mushroom (18-20 days). “We all members work jointly. It implies we buy mushroom spawns in bulk from Agra (@ Rs. 85/kg) and then sell our respective farm produce in bulk in the local market. It not only brought down our individual farm’s production cost but also gave us the strength and confidence to solve all the problems faced in cultivation. In addition we saved ourselves from price exploitation and we are achieving much more by working alongside one another,” he asserts. One of the major milestones acquired by LGMFPCL is establishing Spawn Production Laboratory with the capital investment of Rs. 4 lakh. Money was given by the members as per their share. “Now there is no need of buying spawns from Agra! We are self independent.” Farmer members are also processing the unsold mushrooms into mushroom pickle and selling it across the state. The demand of mushroom and its pickle have increased substantially.

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Generally button mushroom is most popular and always has high demand. Although puaal mushroom has the smaller growing period but its shelf life is less only 3-4 hours. Therefore it is grown in lesser quantity. “We members are now promoting oyster mushroom because it is produced at lesser cost and gives higher profit. It is grown naturally without any chemicals hence is most nutritious and also has highest protein content than all other mushroom varieties,” he states. Combined efforts lead to affirmative results and demand of oyster mushroom in on constant rise. “If our farmers’ chain produces 1000 quintal oyster mushroom then 50% is sold fresh while rest 50% we dry it and sell into mushroom processing companies.”

In Uttar Pradesh state most the farmers grow mushrooms on wheat husk bed as it is easily available. It is a simple process yet the production intricacies involve maintaining the right temperature and humidity. “We place the digital meter in the mushroom growing room to keep a close check on these two factors. Humidity required in all mushroom varieties production is 80% whereas the temperature varies. In button mushroom temperature should be 14-24 degree Celsius, oyster – 18-30 degree Celsius and milky mushroom – 25- 35 degree Celsius. If these two factors are monitored well then production will surely be good,” he claims.

Speaking of difficulty level in producing different mushroom varieties, Mr. Gangwar says, “Button mushroom is most difficult, then milky mushroom while oyster mushroom is the simplest of all in production aspect. However out of 200 farmers only 25-30 farmers grow milky mushroom because as it is cultivated in summer, it becomes tough to manage high temperature. Thus we have bullk production of oyster and button mushroom.”

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When asked about the financial transactions in the company, Mr. Gangwar clarifies, “We have made stringent rules and regulations therefore every rupee spent is well recorded. There is no chance of any manipulations or fraud!” All investments and plans are proposed 15 days prior to all members and decision is taken only after voting. It is a well planned system. 60 per cent of profit earned by the producer company is given to the members as per their share and 40 per cent goes to the reserve of the company for other initiatives.

Future plans of the company are to increase the production, start value addition process with mushroom protein powder and soup. “Lastly we want to begin cultivation of medicinal mushroom variants such as coriolus, cordyceps, maitake, reishi and shiitake etc,” he states.

Mr. Gangwar concludes, “The end goal of our farmers group is that our district must be recognized at national level as country’s ‘Mushroom Growing District’. We all mushroom growing farmers in the region are collectively contributing to achieve this goal. If we have to travel long journey, attain a social milestone and achieve distinctive recognition then it is important to walk along with fellow members. Based on this philosophy I laid the foundation of Leeward Golden Mushroom Farmer Producer Company. Besides if farmers prosper nation would prosper and this is possible only when we work together.”

Contact details:
Leeward Golden Mushroom Farmer Producer Company Limited
Mr. Mahendra Pal Gangwar
Gularamachvapur Village, Bhadurpur Post, Bisalpur Tehsil, Pilibhit District – 262201, Uttar Pradesh
Mobile: 097591 01214, 086506 13174
Email: mahendra.pal843@gmail.com

Thaja Mushrooms

Growers and suppliers of milky and oyster mushrooms

“Mushroom is a healthy food having good and steady demand as these days people prefer to eat low calorie and nutritious food. We ventured into mushroom cultivation only after intense research and getting success in the pilot project,” says Mr. D. Jayakrishna Reddy, partner Thaja Mushrooms. The farm was established with the capital investment of Rs. 23 lakh. It is more than a year the farm was
set-up to grow mushrooms precisely milky and oyster. It is the venture of three friends cum partners Mr. T. Vamci Krishna Reddy, Mr. N. Mahendra Kumar Reddy and Mr. D. Jayakrishna Reddy. The farm is located at Nayudupeta, Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh. Mr. Jayakrishna Reddy speaks with us to share the details on cultivation process, selecting the mushroom varieties and future plans. Excerpts:

We decided on growing milky and oyster mushrooms because it has steady demand and apt for the weather conditions of our region. Production capacity of the farm for oyster is 35kgs/day and milky 16kgs /day. Capital investment required for growing button and shiitake is more therefore we opted out of it! In summer we grow milky mushrooms while during monsoon and winter we cultivate oyster mushrooms. In order to have better practical knowledge on mushroom cultivation three of us underwent training at IISR, Bangalore and NG Ranga University, Hyderabad before setting up the commercial farm. We also visited many existing mushroom farms to get practical
know-how.
Thaja Mushrooms 01

We buy spawns from IIHR, Bangalore at the price of Rs. 62/kg. The cost of spawn is same for oyster as well as milky mushrooms. We are not interested at the moment for making spawns within the farm because of high investment cost.

Cultivation Process
We take paddy straw and chop it 3-4 inches small. It is then sterilized by chemical method using formalin and bavistin. To do so we take 200litre capacity drum, fill it with 100litres of water, add 250ml formalin and 10g bavistan. Mix thoroughly and put 8kgs of paddy straw. Put weight on the straw. Cover the drum. Soak it for 16-20hours. After soaking, remove the water, dry the straw for removing excess water
inside the room yet it is ensured the straw remains moist, atleast having 40% of moisture.

To prepare the bed, we take 12x22inch polypropylene cover. We have to fill the cover with approximately 1kg of straw. The bottom of the cover is tied with rubber tightly, which ensures the proper size of the bed. Put little quantity of spawns then a layer of straw. Keep filling the spawn and straw alternatively such that there are 7-8layers of straw. Approximately 120 gram spawns are used per bed. Make about 20 holes on the cover for aeration to help mycelium to grow. Keep the bed in dark for 20 days.
Thaja Mushrooms 02
Darkness is required because there will be more carbon-dioxide that helps to grow mycelium properly. After 20days, mycelium covers the bed. Take the bed and cut into half. Push the mycelium 1inch inside the polypropylene cover and cover it with casing soil for 1 inch. Casing soil is mixture of 750gram clay sand with 250gram river sand + 20gram chalk powder. Properly mixed and sterilized by autoclave. After
putting casing soil, the bed is moved to lighting room. In lighting room, bed will there for 6-8days and we sprinkle water daily (to maintain moisture in casing soil). In summer, we sprinkle water 2-3times while in monsoon and winter water is sprinkled on need bases as the moisture reduces.

The mushroom sprouts after 8th day and takes 3-4 days to come out the cover. We follow a calculation that is – we make a bed of 1kg straw and to produce 1kg mushroom. We get 98% of produce for 1kg straw.

In the lighting room five things are important namely temperature, humidity, air, lighting and cleanliness. Electric bulbs are needed to give all the beds uniform light. In dark room, temperature and cleanliness should be maintained. Temperature for oyster mushroom is 24-28 degrees and milky 28-35degrees. Humidity for oyster is 80-90% and milky 85-95 %. As in summer the temperature rises upto 45 degrees, we put dry straws on the cement sheets of the farm shed. We sprinkle water on straws periodically to control the temperature.
Thaja Mushrooms

Harvesting
It takes 60 days for mushroom to grow and then it is harvested. 20days in dark room, then putting casing soil and transferring to lighting room takes about 40days. There are three flush from 1st bed. First flush weighs 500gram which comes out in 3-5days. After 5days of first flush, in 2ndflush 300gram (takes 3-5days). Again after gap of 5days, third flush is 200gram (3-5days). We will put the date on each
bed to keep the track. Before putting the next batch into each process, the room is sterilized with formalin and bavistin with powerful sprayer. We use 20litres of water with 500-600ml of formalin and 40g of bavistin. We have different rooms for each process including drying 1 room, 3 dark rooms, 5 lighting rooms. Shelf life of oyster mushroom is 2 days and milky mushroom stays good for 7days. We keep milky mushroom in refrigerator but oyster if remain unsold is put back in the soil for making compost.

Entire mushroom produce is sold from farm gate to caterers and direct consumers. As we are located on bypass road, passerby come and purchase 15-20kgs mushroom/day. We do not sell in super markets or wholesale markets. To attract customers we have put banner. Mushroom is sold either at Rs. 250/kg or Rs.50 for 200gram pack. In future we want to increase our production capacity .

(As told to Mamatha S R)

Contact Details:
Thaja Mushrooms
Kalahasti Bypass Road, Opposite Balabharthi School, Nayudupeta, Nellore District,
Andhra Pradesh – 524 126
Phone: ✆ 08985032416
Email: jayakrishnamsi@gmail.com

Mushroom Biotech – supplies mushroom spawns developed in the liquid culture

Produces mushroom spawn in liquid media

Mushroom Biotech established in 1985 at North Bengal, Jalpaiguri produces and supplies mushroom spawns developed in the liquid culture. “Yes! We grow mushrooms in liquid medium without agar agar. The mushroom streak takes longer time to grow on solid medium but in liquid medium it grows easily and quickly. The methodology is simple and capable to produce bulk quantities,” says Mr. Dibyendu Kanti Mazumdar, founder of the company.

Mr. Mazumdar before venturing in mushroom spawns producing business was working as research scientist for rural development, upliftment of poor in the rural belt. During that he found that growing oyster mushroom is trouble free process that is a low cost project having less production expenses, proffers high returns and can be sold in open market in Northern parts of Bengal. Hence he started growing mushrooms spawns commercially. “As I was doing research on topical mushrooms in Bidhan Chandra Agriculture University, West Bengal, I innovated the liquid culture to grow mushroom spawns,” he adds. Liquid culture is mix of potato extract and dextrose without agar.

Liquid medium used for producing mushroom spawns

“Liquid culture in sterile bottles is inoculated (injected) with mycelia from potato-dextrose media. It grows within 10-12days. After that they are inoculated in wheat media for commercial purpose,” he provides brief on the process of growing spawns.

All types of mushroom grow in the liquid culture. “I have developed different types of liquid media for different mushrooms for my lab activity. For Example wheat extract medium is used for button mushrooms, wheat liquid extract media for calocyte indica mushroom and potato dextrose media for oyster mushrooms,” he informs.

Inoculation from liquid medium

The cost of producing the liquid is very less. “It requires 200g potato and 20g dextrose. Boil potato and separate the extract. Mix dextrose in the extract and pour it in saline bottle upto 200 or 300g. Next autoclave it and then inoculate. After 12-15days the culture will be ready,” he shares. “I do not sell the culture.” One liter liquid can produce 200g packets of mushroom spawn of 200g each.

The culture cannot be reused. “It will have potato odour when in process to prepare the culture and later it shall have mushroom odour when mycelia grows in it. It has pale yellow colour,” says Mr. Mazumdar.

Spawns stocked for commercial sales

Mr. Mazumdar finds oyster mushroom as lucrative as it can be produced throughout the year. “White milky, button, calocybe indica mushrooms can also be grown but bull’s eye is oyster mushroom,” he says.

At Mushroom Biotech spawns are sold at Rs. 10-12/ 200g packet. “These are sent through bus to out-stations or personally collected from my lab. Cost of transportation is additional to selling price, to be borne by customers,” he informs. Capital investment for mushroom cultivation depends on the quantity to be grown. For spawn production initial investment shall be Rs.5-6lakhs.

Oyster Mushroom

Spawns quantity depends on working plan since it cannot be stored. Its shelf life is 25 days. “Hence it has to be produced as per the customers’ demand. It is packed in poly bags without any media. If I produce spawns in low temperature, then spawns if grown in the region having high temperatures then it shall not survive. So spawns need to be acclimatized in compliance with the climatic condition of the area where it is being cultivated,” clarifies Mr. Mazumdar.

Speaking about growing mushroom in liquid versus solid media he explains, “In liquid media we get pure mycelia in every packet and so they are first generation spawn. It has the potency and is obviously better. In my lab, seed production, development of culture, maintenance is being done. In addition quality of spawn is checked periodically.”

Mushroom Biotech offers seeds produced in the lab and technology to grow mushrooms. “Farmers across North East States of India buy spawns from us to produce mushrooms. We have clients even from Kathmandu,” informs Mr. Mazumdar.

Spawns produced and supplied by Mr. Mazumdar gives good results. “My cultivators are confident with me and I am on them. They are making profits and coming back to me for seeds,” he adds.

When asked about the changes mushroom business have brought in North East states, he responds, “When I started in 1987 in North East India, mushroom production was zero, sometimes it was very low that I had to work in field and develop. Presently 4000-5000 families are being profited with this business.”

Mr. Mazumdar is focused only on producing mushroom spawns but he provides training to people who are interested in growing mushroom commercially. “I use my mushroom farm for conducing residential training programs. People come here and stay for 5-7days. They learn and return back to start for-profit mushroom business. They get good profit,” he adds.

His future plans include having good training and management institute for mushroom cultivation. “If this done, then North East India will have the biggest mushroom industry when compared to tea and tourism business. Mushroom will become the business of future and it will be biggest industry in India. It will also change the economy of India if grown in an organized way,” he concludes.

Mr. D K Mazumdar holds post graduation in Botany. He took 3.5years to research and develop the liquid culture media for growing mushroom spawn. He has not yet tried to sell spawns in any other States other than North East States as by serving the masses he does not want to compromise with the quality of his mushroom spawns.

Contact details-
Mushroom Biotech
West Keranipara, Post and District Jalpaiguri – 735101, West Bengal
Phone 09832063963
Email : dkmushroom@rediffmail.com
Web: https://www.facebook.com/Mushroom-Biotech-212074465512731/timeline/?ref=py_c

Coonfresh – supplies oyster mushroom

Produces and supplies oyster mushroom 365 days using bio technology. Also develops value added products

‘Coonfresh’ mushrooms are available in the market all the year round irrespective of the erratic climatic conditions. These are fresh mushrooms produced naturally using bio hi-tech oyster mushroom cultivation house. Coonfresh is owned and run by Mrs. Shije Varghese. She started mushroom cultivation in 2007 just as a hobby at her home in Eramalloor, Alappuzha, Kerala. Little she knew that her hobby would grow substantially to turn her into an entrepreneur. Strong support of her husband, Mr. T J Thankachan played a vital role in her success today. Also she had encouragement and constant motivation from agriculture department, Dr. A V Mathew, Associate Professor from Kumarakom Agricultue Research Station. We spoke with Mrs. Varghese to know more about growing mushroom for 365 days in the year and is it really a profitable business!

Mrs. Shije Varghese, Founder of Coonfresh

We started growing mushroom with almost-no investment in space less than 100 square feet. Elated with the first harvest we shared the mushrooms with family and friends. Positive results gave the confidence to add on another 700 square feet area for hanging the mushroom bed. Facing the ups and down as part of any business we continued to progress. Now we faced the problem of regular supply of mushrooms as it requires specific temperature and humidity for good production. We found the solution in bio hi-tech oyster mushroom cultivation house.

Bio-hi tech is a multi cooling system to attain the desired temperature and humidity required for oyster mushroom cultivation. In the normal farming these two factors are dependent on the climate conditions. The production of mushroom is controlled by climate. Since we won’t get the temperature range of 25 to 30 C and humidity of 80 to 95 everyday, the production was irregular. This system helped to get the production in a controlled environment. Hence we could streamline the production and thereby regular supply of product in the market could be ensured.

Bio hi-tech oyster mushroom cultivation house used for producing mushrooms 365 days

We made an initial investment of INR 4.5 lakhs for 1000 sq. ft and got the output of INR 6 lakhs in the first year itself. We are glad we experimented and got the system intact. The system was built with the support of Indian Institute of Horticulture, Bangalore, and my husband T J Thankachan.

We hang the mushroom bed for easy sprouting and harvesting. It is on plastic coir with a base in 1 ft interval. We grow oyster mushroom in this hanging system. It is tastier than milky and has more medical properties than any other mushrooms available commercially in the market. Most important oyster mushrooms are produced organically. Button mushroom which is available in plenty in market cannot be produced in organic way. Milky Mushroom can also be grown by hanging system but it requires different temperature and humidity range. We stick to oyster mushroom. In Oyster mushrooms itself we grow different species like sojer kaj, pink, Co2, etc based on the seasons. We grow 200 kg/month and sell fresh mushrooms at INR 300/kg.

Produces mushroom through hanging system

We sell our entire produce and there is no left over but we are now planning to commercialize with value added products for which we completed our research, trail etc. We are thereby extending its shelf life from the current 3 days to 6 months. We are drying and powdering it to produce fortified mushroom rasam, enriched soup and almost all curry powders. We had outlets for mushroom dosa, mushroom momo, cutlet etc. These were run by different agencies but discontinued now as we are planning to have our own outlets.

Mushroom growing and supplying is certainly a profitable business. It is tried and tested that 2 hours of work/day gives sure return of Rs. 10,000/-. Only consideration is that more than the physical work, mushroom requires constant care and attention. We have to monitor its’ growth and take right steps for the same.

We are planning to increase our fresh mushroom production by expansion of our lab for increased spawn production and build a training centre for continuous training to the public. We have already published a hand book and we conduct the training at a nominal fees of Rs. 300/- . We are giving one packet of spawn also in this training program.

Our other future plans are to start oyster mushroom based industry where we shall introduce value added products. In fresh category we will have dosa, burger, sandwich, in the frozen category we would introduce cutlet, momo, spring roll and dried category we would offer rasam, curry powder etc. Mushroom waste compost production unit is also the area of focus in time to come. We produce oyster mushroom based on the theme ‘organic way to healthy living’. We shall continue our efforts in alliance with the same theme.

(As told to Shweta Dhanuka)

Contact details-
Coonfresh
Kudapuram Road, Eramalloor. P. O, Cherthala, Alleppey (Dist) Kerala – 688537
Email – coonfresh@ymail.com

Vikas Mushroom Farm – uses willow trees’ logs to grow exotic mushrooms

Passionate to produce edible fungi, uses willow trees’ logs to grow exotic mushrooms

Started with an investment of Rs.5000 in 1990, multiplied manifolds, and today clocking annual turnover of Rs.4 Crores – it is not the shares or IT or real estate, it is mushroom business. Sharing his story, Mr. Vikas Benal, founder of Vikas Mushroom Farm, says, “I started growing mushrooms at a very small scale. My first crop was raised in a small room in my house with an investment of Rs 5000 and from that my sales proceed was Rs.15000 (those days mushroom was sold at Rs. 20-22/kg).”

Later in 1991, family saving of Rs. 2 lakhs was invested to build a pasteurization tunnel for compost and seasonal growing mushrooms. Today the farm has its own spawn lab, compost unit and round the year air conditioned growing rooms with controlled temperature, humidity, and CO2 conditions. Production capacity at the farm includes 3000 metric tonnes pasteurized compost, 100 metric tonnes quality spawn (seed) and 500 metric tonnes mushrooms. It is worthwhile to mention that the entire financial investment was made from the sales proceed of mushrooms and not even a single rupee was financed by any government/private financial institution and no financial grant from the government has been availed.

Mr. Vikas Benal

When asked why in mushroom growing business, Mr. Benal says, “Basically we are an agricultural family but my parents worked in education department with Himachal Pradesh Government and my father retired as a principal. After doing my Masters, I decided not to seek a job but to start my own business and after exploring other business options I decided to start growing mushrooms.” Milky and oyster mushrooms are regular features at Vikas Mushroom Farm but what makes them stand apart is exotic mushrooms variety “Shiitake”.

Shiitake mushroom also known as the mother of all fungi is packed with rich medicinal properties. It is consumed across the world as a medicine. It is valued for its flavor, nutrition and health benefits. Good taste, high protein content, no fat, and meaty texture strengthening and stimulating the immune system, and a long shelf life (around 2 weeks without refrigeration) are among its distinguished properties.

“I started Shiitake in 2010 on a trial basis,” informs Mr. Benal, and says, “I came to know about it through symposiums and seminars at national and international levels.” With the quest to learn producing shiitake mushroom Mr. Benal visited Belgium, Netherlands and Germany and took advanced training from Mycelia, Belgium, on production of sterilized substrates and lignicolous mushrooms, and on Shiitake spawn production. The initial seed was procured from Directorate for Mushroom Research, India, Field and Forest Products, USA, and from the Belgian Company Mycelia.

Initially Mr. Benal was growing Shiitake mushrooms using saw dust from unknown sources and thus he was not getting a good yield. He shares, “In 2012, during their visit Dr. Sandra and Douglass Williams of Lost Creek Mushroom Farm, Perkins, OK, USA, said that they were using sawdust and wood logs from some select species which are rarely available in India and are banned from cutting. I researched and found the list of trees suitable for shiitake mushroom production by Mr. Peter Oi of Netherlands. Out of that list I found that willow (salix) tree has an excellent rating.”

Mr. Benal observes willow tree is temperature tolerant and fast growing tree and can be cultivated commercially. These properties make the willow tree an ideal substrate for shiitake mushrooms. Department of Tree Improvement and Genetic Resources, College of Forestry, provided Mr. Benal with some logs for research trial under the Public Private Partnership Scheme. During trials it was observed that on willow trees substrate the yield of shiiatke is high and fast.

There are two ways to grow Shiiatke – on composted saw dust bags and on hard wood logs.

Mr. Benal also planted different varieties of willow tree saplings for commercial agro-forestry. He says, “These trees grow very fast. After a year the branches of trees are pruned and converted into saw dust and wood chips are used as a substrate for growing shiitake mushrooms. Every year branches are pruned so that trees grow fast and after four years trees are cut and every part of the tree is utilized for substrate.” One transplanted tree can be used 5-7 times in a period of 20-25 years. The saw dust/wood chips from willow trees can be used immediately fresh for substrate.

Stating shiitake producing technique as cost effective and less time consuming, he shares, “In 40 inch willow log having 3-4 inch diameter, holes are drilled into the logs. Then spawns are inserted into the holes (in the form of bullets) and sealed with wax. The logs are kept in the open under shade. Fruiting of shiitake starts in just three months and continues for 4-5 years.” Another unique feature of the technique is that the entire substrate is consumed by the growth of shiitake mushroom and hence there are no issues of managing the used substrate unlike in button and oyster where the used compost needs to be processed into manure for raising horticultural crops.

Proper substrate, quality spawn (seed), proper pasteurization of substrate, maintaining hygiene and proper climatic conditions are the crucial factors when producing shiitake mushrooms. It can be grown round the year. Presently at Vikas Mushroom Farm its’ production is in early stages. It will take at least two years for commercial production. Mr. Benal is confident about sales as, “Awareness on shiitake mushrooms is increasing. In addition, there is a huge demand for quality fresh and dried shiitake in the domestic and international market.”

At the moment for sales in India, shiitake mushroom is being imported from neighboring countries like China and Thailand as there is no commercial shiitake mushroom grower. It is sold at Rs. 1000 to 1500 per kg for fresh and around Rs. 2500/kg for dried ones.

Mr. Benal prefers to sun-dry shiitake mushrooms because when it is dried in sun it absorbs Vitamin D which will be retained up-to one year. Further, sun dried shiitake is the best source of vitamin D. “We also dry in electric dryer at 50C to 60C,” he adds, “By soaking dried shiitake in water for an hour it can be used as fresh mushrooms. Dried shiitake mushroom is used in pharmaceutical industries in various countries apart for its use in culinary such as soups and chips etc.”

Mr. Vikas Benal is a resident of Shamlaich village, Solan district, Himachal Pradesh. He completed his post-graduation in commerce from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, in 1988. His vision is to promote shiitake mushrooms across the country and globe due to its health benefits.

Contact details-

Vikas Mushroom Farm
Village Shamlaich,
P.O.Barog Railway Station
Solan -173211, HP, India
Phones:91-1792-227651
Mobile:94180-27651, 9805827651
Email – vikasmushroom1@gmail.com, vikasmushroom@yahoo.com
Website – http://vikasmushrooms.com/

Zolo Organic Mushroom Farm

Grows mushrooms as pre-orders and sells through home based sales representatives

Mr Muthu started Zolo Organic Mushroom Farm to grow mushrooms organically. The farm is located at Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu. Oyster mushrooms are grown exclusively at the farm. “We know about all mushroom varieties cultivation but for profitable business we grow only oyster mushrooms. However, sometimes we do receive orders for milky and button mushrooms and based upon the order we cultivate other mushrooms varieties,” says Mr. Muthu. He started the business with Rs. 30 lakhs capital investment and earns Rs. 50,000/month.

Oyster mushrooms are grown using traditional methods. “We do not use any chemicals for growing mushrooms,” he shares. Mushroom spawns are developed at the lab set-up in the farm premises itself, “We develop spawns only for us,” he says. Mushroom substrate is re-processed and used as fertilizers by farmers living in and around the farm.

Competition or selling never bothers Mr. Muthu as his entire cultivation is booked with pre-orders. “We take pre-orders on yearly basis and accordingly cultivate mushrooms. Minimum order considered is 3 kgs/month,” he adds. “We cannot produce even a single kg of mushrooms without order.” Conversely, pre-orders are subject to change every month. “Some people select 3 month plan while some people select 6, 9, 12 etc. We give fresh mushrooms at Rs. 200/kg while our clients re-pack and sell at Rs. 500/kg,” he says.

All clients are from Tamil Nadu. “We cannot concentrate on other states now as we do not add any preservative hence it is crucial our mushrooms are sold the same day. We have dealers from part time and full time job holders. Many housewives are also our dealers. They invest some amount and do the sales in their area,” informs Mr. Muthu. Zolo Organic Mushroom Farm wants to sell mushrooms only through the existing sales maneuver through independent home based dealers and mostly shall not plan for direct sales as it requires more investment.

Mr. Muthu concludes saying, “I am very satisfied in the business and I am hopeful to achieve more as I gain more experience. In coming months we are keen on increasing the orders. We welcome, those who wish to start mushroom sale in their area. We can to supply upto 100 kg/day.”

Contact details-
Zolo Organic Mushrooms Farm
Anniyendal, Muthanandal Post, Manamadurai Taluk Sivagangai-630603, Tamil Nadu
Mob: 90955 66925,72996 94917
Email: zoloorganicmushroom@gmail.com

Packiya Traders – Oyster mushroom producers

Oyster mushroom producers attempt to change consumers’ preference!

Packiya Traders deals in oyster and milky mushroom. Ms. M. Venkateshwari started the company at Madurai in 2013. She got inclined towards mushroom because of its high nutritive value.

She always aspired to be self independent hence saw the opportunity in mushroom business. She knew in order to be successful expertise is needed. In addition she felt proper training was essential as she only had formal education till 10th Std. Therefore, before starting mushroom business she completed the Entrepreneur and Skill Development Program in Mushroom. Later, with the capital investment of Rs. 1 Lakh she started growing mushroom. Today 10 kg is daily produce of mushroom at the company.

Ms. Venkateshwari says, “Our farm is an organic farm where we grow mushrooms without using any chemical based inputs. Therefore our mushrooms are high on weight, quality and quantity.”
Selling is the most challenging part of the business. “Initially when we introduced mushroom in market, nobody was willing to buy,” shares Ms. Venkateshwari and adds, “We created the demand for our product by distributing pamphlets and free samples. Later it started picking up and now it is good.”

Presently hotels are the target customers of Packiya Traders. “Soon we shall get into direct sales as it would lead to more orders and easy delivery,” informs Ms Venkateshwari. Company has its sales focus in Tamil Nadu.

She feels mushroom is a profitable business hence plans for expansion. In her words,
“Right now we have 600 beds of oyster mushroom which we want to increase to 1000 beds. We also plan to invade more into the market and improve sales. People prefer only button mushroom, but we want to make them buy oyster mushrooms by explaining the benefits, high protein, minerals, and nutrition content of the same.”

Contact details-
Packiya Traders
M 52 ENHP Tamil Nagar, Anaiyur Post, Madurai 625017, Tamil Nadu
Mob: 74184 64691 / 9043450960 / 7601997877
Email: packiyatraders@gmail.com