Mushroom is an important vegetable which usually grows in the forest, has both nutritive and medicinal value. It can also be cultivated domestically on a small scale by landless people. The climate of Nigeria is highly favorable for high volume of mushroom production. The cultivation of mushroom is one of the lucrative agricultural jobs. In our study, the profitability of mushroom cultivation is found comparatively higher than that of most popular cash earning crops in Nigeria. As funding to promote the production and consumption of mushrooms is limited, government and NGOs can play vital role to develop mushroom agriculture to arrive at industrial level which can create ample employment opportunities both in semi-urban and rural areas. This result suggests that the potential of mushroom cultivation could be a possible offer to alleviate poverty and develop the lifestyle of the vulnerable people in Nigeria.
Mushroom is used as a delicious item for food menu due to its nutritive and medicinal values. Mushrooms have long been favored by many as food stuff in soups. Lately, mushrooms can be found in markets throughout America, Europe, Asia, as well as Africa. Popularity of mushrooms is ever increasing throughout every part of the world because of its exotic flavor and their culinary properties whether eaten alone or in combination with other foods. But until now, it is not well known that mushrooms are full of nutrients and can therefore make a very important contribution to human nutrition.
There are many methods of mushroom cultivation but bag cultivation, bottle cultivation, log cultivation and shelf cultivation are usually common. Rice straw, wheat straw, sugarcane waste, banana leaves, grass and sawdust are the major fibrous residues important for mushroom cultivation substrates. The pasteurized substrate is usually spawned and packed into polythene bags of about 30cm wide and 60~90cm long for the bag culture of the oyster mushroom. The growing rooms are maintained at between 18oC ~ 25oC, with a relative humidity of about 75%. Although up to 6 flushes may be obtained from each bag, the first three are the most important in commercial production. For every 10kg of dry substrate used, as much as 20kg of mushroom can be harvested from the first 3~4 flushes. At least 2~3kg are usually harvested per bag. During the cooler winter season, Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster) is cultivated.
Dietary fiber prevents constipation, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, colon cancer and arteriosclerosis by lowering cholesterol level. The high amount of ergo-sterol in fresh shiitake makes dried shiitake an important vitamin D source because ergo-sterol converts to vitamin D2 in the presence of sunlight. Exposure of shiitake to direct sunlight for 3 hours/day increases the vitamin D2 content up to 5 times. Sunlight exposure also increases the free amino acid content which is about 2,180 mg/dl in the dry fruiting bodies, and it makes them sweeter and less bitter (Kiribuchi, 1991).
Eating mushroom can prevent various vitamin B and D deficiencies including beri-beri (thiamin); cheilosis, glossitis, corneal vascularization, Seborrheic dermatitis, nerve tissue damage (riboflavin); abnormal growth in infants and children (niacin); and rickets (vitamin D). Vitamin D boosts calcium absorption and thus plays an important role in bone formation. Mushrooms are not only sources of nutrients but have also been reported as therapeutic foods, useful in preventing diseases such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and cancer. Some recently remote and recognized compounds, originating from mushrooms, show other quite significant medical properties, such as immuno-modulatory, cardiovascular, liver protective, anti-fibrotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-viral and anti-microbial activities. Some anti-fungal protein are also recognized which shows the inhibiting activity of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, possible being used for healing AIDS disorder. The methodical indications of mushrooms as multi-purpose medicines on different human diseases have been accrued. So mushrooms can be used to combat human diseases.
Mushroom production is the most appropriate job for the poor landless both men and women farmers in Nigeria. Mushrooms can be grown in the small space of a farmer’s own house for small scale production and generate income that aids in the family support. Mushroom cultivation is the most popular activity for development programs targeting income generation among women because it is suitable for the women’s life style.
The product is highly nutritive and a good food for their children and old parents, and because of its high economic value they can also earn some income from the production. In many areas in Nigeria, farmers are beginning to grow mushrooms on a small scale and are benefitting directly. They have managed to adopt the technology in a simpler way whereby they can afford to invest on a small scale. They are mainly utilizing the agricultural and wood waste mainly saw dust and wheat and rice straws. Thus, mushroom cultivation may reduce poverty and improve the life style of many poor farmers in Nigeria if well supported.
The advocacy is for government, NGOs, and all stake holders to join forces to reach out to both the rural and urban poor by assisting them financially to go into this very profitable agro venture as it will not only help in alleviating poverty, but also help in reducing unemployment. It can be introduced into the school feeding program to help the children get protein at its best. Those in the IDP camps can also learn to grow it since it does not require much space and also incorporate it into their meals to help fight against malnutrition. Mushroom business should be everybody’s business. It is a wakeup call for action. The time to grow these highly profitable funguses to improve livelihoods is now!
Sure, if more people understood where food comes from, they would consider agriculture and mushroom farming friendly to the environment. Rapidly developing communities may begin to tolerate our farms. Promoting mushroom farming as environmentally friendly form of agriculture should be a long term educational goal of the agricultural sector.
Eating mushroom can prevent various vitamin B and D deficiencies including beri-beri (thiamin); cheilosis, glossitis, corneal vascularization, Seborrheic dermatitis, nerve tissue damage (riboflavin); abnormal growth in infants and children (niacin); and rickets (vitamin D). Vitamin D boosts calcium absorption and thus plays an important role in bone formation.
As growers, we tend to only see composting from a mushroom’s point of view. More importantly the environmentalist, municipal governments and communities should look to mushroom farms as a disposal agent. Researchers should be more interested in testing and using agricultural and industrial waste products for mushroom compost. Growers must use the mushroom’s ability to consume organic materials discarded by man, to help control pollution in modern society.