In-vitro success of Japanese wonder mushroom heading for commercial take

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After successful growth of a Japanese mushroom in the testing labs, experts are moving ahead with commercial propagation as first plant was set up at Dhangiara village under Gohar block in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.

Having medicinal properties and wonder food quality, mushroom are being grown commercially in Japan and China, now being undergoing field trial in this state which is famous for Mushroom production .

For the first time in India major break through has been achieved as an organization was working on in-vitro and field trail successfully grew this mushroom with pain staking effort of a women mycologist for last two decades.

Dr. Maninder Jeet Kaur of Himalayan Research Group (HRG), a local non-government organisation took up the study of the prized mushroom, called Lentinula Edodes by botanists and commercially popularized it is also named as ‘Shiitake’ or ‘Shiiya Gu’.

“It is first such kind of natural food product enriched in protein carbohydrate, lipid and vitamin, whereas it has minerals and all amino acid of protein required for man in the dietary components. It has as much protein as in fresh green pea”, Mycologist noted.

She went on to obtain her doctorate degree carrying out detailed studies of physical and physiological conditions required for the mushroom’s cultivation.

Its production was being done on the standardise cultivation module on blocks of poplar and eucalyptus sawdust mixture and a few other locally available enriching ingredients. Sawdust waste from saw mills of Punjab and Haryana, which otherwise is discarded, gains value by cultivating the mushroom.

Explaining the technique, Dr. Kaur said steam-sterilised sawdust blocks were inoculated with culture of Shiitake and incubated at room temperature. It took around 45 to 60 days for colonisation of sawdust block at ambient temperature of 23°C to 25°C. Mushrooms started appearing after the temperature was lowered to 12°C to 18°C. The required humidity was maintained by sprinkling water on the block.

She said standardised cultivation modules did not require specialised infrastructure like compost unit and cropping facility. Natural shiitake cultivation in temperate climate started in February and March and ended around November and December.

It could be grown in temperate climate at minimal cost by stacking the sawdust blocks in temporary sheds and household rooms. A 10x10x10 feet  room could accommodate about 500 blocks of a kg each in a three-tier arrangement to produce 500 kg of mushroom, which yielded 100 percent profit at the lowest rate.

HRG director Dr. Lal Singh said that the achievement would not have been possible without the sustained support of the department of science and technology. The marketing was initially a problem, as people hesitated to purchase the mushroom due to lack of awareness and even considered it poisonous as it looks like wild mushroom. However, the dried produce displayed in exhibitions helped in breaking the ice.

The HRG plans to carry out commercial production over 5,000 to 6,000 blocks at its field station in Gohar for consumption of general consumers in Mandi and Manali areas. Once it became popular among consumers, interested farmers would be trained in its cultivation and provided with colonised blocks to establish their household enterprises, he said.