What is Mushroom? –
A mushroom is defined as “a macro-fungus with a distinctive fruiting body which can be either epigeous or hypogenous. The macro fungi have fruiting bodies large enough to be seen with the naked eye and to be picked upby hand”
Mushroom cultivation has been evaluated as an effective means for poverty alleviation in developing countriesdue to its possibility of low cost production, high profit and quick return.
Mushrooms have been part of our human diet since timeimmemorial. They were used as food even before manunderstood the use of other organisms. Undoubtedly,mushrooms were one of man’s most primitive foods, and theywere often considered an exotic and expensive foodreserved for the elites.
Today mushrooms are food for boththe rich and the poor. They can be grown anywhere aslong as the conditions for their growth and cultivation areprovided. Available mushroom technologies range incomplexity from very high to amazingly low.
We at ChiTola Farms are focused on providing guidance and knowledge from our experience since 1998 in the field of Mushroom Cultivation (In Ghana and now Nigeria) to build a livelihood generation program developing into an enterprise mode to take up mushroom cultivation as a nutritional food security and income generating activity in Nigeria so that small and marginal farmers can augment their livelihoods in a sustainable manner and develop enterprises. In this light we have set up a Mushroom Development Foundation Nigeria in partnership with the Mushroom Development Foundation India.
Mushrooms have been variously considered as a hedge against famine or a possible cancer cure. They docertainly have enormous potential for feeding third world peoples.
Now let’s take a look at nutrition of mushrooms –
The popularity of mushrooms is still based not on the nutrients that they contain but mostly on their exotic taste
and their culinary properties, whether eaten alone or in combination with other foods.
It is not well known thatmushrooms are full of nutrients and can therefore make a very important contribution to human nutrition.Protein is one of the most important nutrients in food, being particularly important for building body tissues.
Mushrooms with protein content ranging from 3-7% when fresh to 25-40% when dry can play an important role inenriching human diets when meat sources are limited. The protein content is almost equal to that of corn, milk,and legumes, although still lower than meat, fish and eggs.
As a dietary source of protein, mushrooms are superior to most fruits and vegetables with the exception of beans and peas.
Mushrooms can be eaten fresh or cooked,unlike other protein sources such as soya and yeast that have to be processed or disguised in some manner beforethey are acceptable on the table.
Mushrooms also contain all the essential amino acids as well as the commonly occurring non-essential aminoacids and amides. Lysine, which is low in most cereals, is the most important amino acid in mushrooms.
Mushroom protein is indeed a valuable addition to the human diet.Mushrooms also rank quite high in their vitamin content, which includes significant amounts of Vitamin C.
Although devoid of Vitamin A, mushrooms make up for that with their high riboflavin, thiamin andcyanocobalamin (Vit. B12) content, the latter usually being found only in animal products. Their content of theanti-pellagra vitamin–niacin–is nearly equivalent to the levels found in pork or beef, which are considered to bethe richest sources of this vitamin.
Mushrooms are also good sources of minerals such as calcium, potassium,sodium and phosphorous in addition to folic acid, an ingredient known for enriching the bloodstream andpreventing deficiencies. Iron is also present in an appreciable amount in mushrooms and together withphosphorous, can provide a good proportion of the recommended daily dietary needs.
Mushrooms are low insodium, making them ideal for persons with certain types of heart and kidney ailments.
Mushrooms for Medicine
For the past 30+ years, interest in the medicinal aspects of mushrooms has greatly been stimulated by the largenumber of scientific studies conducted on mushrooms. Folklores have provided clues for potential sources ofmedicine from mushrooms as well as from herbal plants.
Using modern approaches, scientists have isolated andidentified specific components that can either destroy or at least debilitate three of mankinds’ killer diseases:cancer, heart disease and AIDS.
Mushroom for aquaculture –
Feed is a major constraint to aqua culture development in developing countries like Nigeria where maize is the main carbohydrate energy source in fish diets which due to its over use in livestock feeds and humans consumption make it relatively expensive. Hence, the need for alternatives for sustainability.
Now we can replace maize with graded levels (0, 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent) of cultured dried whole mushroom (DCM) in fish feeds and experiment tried and results confirmed that oyster mushroom SupportsgrowthoffingerlingO.niloticus.
Our Focus –
With these in mind and our passion for agriculture and its value chain will engage ourselves to create sustainable livelihood, nutritional food security and entrepreneurship options for the small and marginal farmers by getting them engaged in the activities of mushroom cultivation. We are currently developing projects for Nigerians on Mushroom as a livelihood Initiative and will also create brands and necessary linkages required for sustainable development of the farmers in the form of funding, credit linkages, market linkages and community linkages.
Any Support from Government?
Not at all so far, but we are open. Mushroom farming is a special area and needs to be explored and promoted by the government and all agro agencies, nutritionists, researchers, institutions etc. as a healthy nutrition alternative for the masses.
How do one join the Foundation:
Joining the foundation is simple, you just need to indicate your interest in mushroom farming and then subscribe to the foundation. When the basics are in place, you will be alerted on training schedules and it goes from there. Mind you, the foundation will be offering the complete mushroom value chain.