Wednesday, May 15, 2013



"Mushroom cultivation helps in alleviating protein energy malnutrition, improving economic standard of the masses, imparting diversification and in addressing the problems of quality food, health, and environment related issues." These views were expressed by the Microbiology experts of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). They divulged, "At present, mushroom production in the country is nearly 1,20,000 tonnes, in which the Punjab state contributes about 45-50 per cent, which is mainly through 400 odd seasonal growers as well as a few industrial units growing mushrooms under controlled environment of temperature and relative humidity." Thus, the growers can now cultivate mushrooms round the year by selecting suitable varieties recommended by the PAU for winter and summer seasons, they added.

Highlighting the importance of mushroom cultivation, Dr P.K. Khanna, Microbiology expert, said that mushrooms are a good source of proteins and are rich in minerals and vitamins. Stating that the demand for mushrooms is increasing at a rapid rate, he added that they are capable of utilizing agro-wastes, avoid pollution and their cultivation is labour intensive. Dr Khanna observed that mushroom cultivation is a promising venture which enhances the farm income of the farmers and provide employment opportunities as well.

Another expert, Dr Shammi Kapoor said that four varieties of mushrooms namely button, oyster or dhingri, milky, and paddy straw mushrooms are grown under natural climatic conditions in Punjab. Out of these, the first two are cultivated during winter season from October to March while the latter two are cultivated as summer varieties from April to August, he informed. Alongwith the bulk availability of paddy and wheat straw, the two principal seasons including winter and summer, with an average temperature of 10 to 42 ˚C, make the Punjab state suitable for mushroom cultivation as a profitable subsidiary occupation for supplementing the growers' income. Mushrooms are processed by the growers or processors to produce various value added products like mushroom pickle and soup, he highlighted.

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