Growing mushroom in tobacco barns
By Tahir Ali Khan
May 02, 2011: MUSHROOM can be cultivated anywhere in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa but it is more convenient to sow it in areas
where tobacco is grown.
Thousands of tobacco barns lie mostly unused from October to
June every year which can be used for cultivation of
The timing for the use of tobacco barns is ideal for two
reasons: first, they are vacant and can be used without any
damage to the next crop. Second, the crop requires
temperature between 22-27 degrees Celsius and humidity of
around 80 per cent, which prevail during that period.
The Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) has also started a project
for cul- tivation of mushroom which will be promoted among
farmers from next year.
“Farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have lagged far behind their
counterparts in Punjab. The latter are earning more money
from their modernised and efficient farming practices and
for utilising their agriculture infrastructure to the
maximum. For example tobacco farmers in Punjab grow cucumber
and green chillies in winter and earn a lot of money.
Unfortunately, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa farmers are either too
ignorant or poor and not interested in doing that. They can
earn a lot by opting to mushroom cultivation in their barns
during the interval,” said a PTB official.
“We will provide technical support, guidance and spawn
initially for growing mushroom to tap the potential and
enable tobacco growers to increase their income,” he said.
“The PTB will provide seed to the farmers for the first time
and then they will be asked to develop the spawns themselves
for their use. Farmers will also be provided training and
guidance on how to grow the plant, ” he added.
Farmers are generally ignorant about mushroom seeds and
know-how to grow oyster or button variety. Guidance on the
crop and provision of its spawns (seeds) to farmers could
attract multitude of farmers to the sector.
The ingredients needed for the crop are easier to get.
Mushroom spawn, two kg quality substrate (wheat straw) and
two per cent lime, a plastic bag and clean water are all
that is needed for growing mushroom.
Mushroom requires little space, consumes little time, does
not need hard work and can be grown even by women and
It requires small investment. Its seed in a bag costs around
Rs30 which grows in three months. An ordinary barn can
provide around 30-50 bags, and with this investment a farmer
can earn Rs1000-Rs1500 per bag.
Mushrooms have both nutritional and medicinal values. Being
a good food for patients of heart disease, blood pressure
and eyesight, mushroom can be used as a diet for common man
and in soup.
It can also be marketed to save foreign exchange spent on
import of canned mushroom.
Mushroom has been found to have greatly augmented milking
capacity of livestock in the province. Its residues are also
a major organic fertiliser.
The fungus apart from being a major organic food, is a rich
source of protein and can be used as a substitute for
protein-providing foods such as meat which is increasingly
becoming costlier and unaffordable for the middle-class.
While growing mushrooms, sufficient amount of water, oxygen
and darkness is needed. Sterilisation of the compost before
spawning is another prerequisite which prevents it from
The spawning process completes within 40-45 days. After a
week, production starts which continues for three months. In
case of button variety, the compost is ready within a month
while the oyster`s compost takes a week for germination.
This spawning component can also be used as seeds and a
spawn bag gives 25 bags of mushroom seeds.
Marketing of the commodity is another problem. The farmers
have no access to and information about the buyers. There
are many buyers in the market but irregularity in supplies
spoils things. Recently a five-star hotel showed interest in
mushroom purchase agreement but it wanted regular supplies
and good quality.
This can be sorted out by ensuring coordination between
growers and purchasers on the one hand and the farmers on
“By developing mushrooms farmers` and buyers` database, the
problem of marketing the produce can be solved to the
advantage of the stakeholders. We are hopeful that big chain
restaurants will themselves contact the producers for the
commodity,” the official said.
“Purchase centres can be opened in the districts where
information can be provided to the stakeholders on the
demand and supply situation of the commodity in the market
to facilitate business,” the official added.
Courtesy: The DAWN