The release of four new high-yielding strains of mushrooms for commercial use in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan has put the spotlight on mushroom cultivation as a means to cushion employment loss in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The pandemic has also prompted a few experts to another look at consumption of mushrooms, known for their immunity-boosting anti-viral properties.
The announcement for the release of mushrooms -two strains of White Button variety and one each of shiitake and milky mushroom- was made by the Directorate of Mushroom Research (DMR) in Solan during the 22nd annual workshop of All India Coordinated Research Project on Mushrooms on June 9. A drive has also been undertaken to propagate more consumption for the purpose.
All four strains of mushrooms are of good quality, according to experts at DMR. Solan is known as the mushroom capital of India.
They added that the two strains of white button variety are likely to fetch a 15 per cent increase in their yield. “White button is among the most popular edible and culinary varieties of mushroom. It is the best source of Vitamin D for the vegetarian population. A mere 10 grams of its consumption can fulfil half the body requirement of Vitamin D,” said an expert, adding that white button mushrooms also help keep sugar levels stable and are the most popular variety of mushrooms grown and produced in north India.
Development and release of Milky mushroom is all set to enhance the yield by at least 16 per cent, according to experts. This is a variety that is normally grown and consumed in the coastal parts of the country. It is among those rare varieties that can be grown in tropical climates where the temperatures are on the higher side 32-42 degrees Celsius.
Experts are also looking at promoting mushroom production through a lens of employment in the face of the reverse migration triggered by the COVID-19 lockdown. This aspect was highlighted by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Director-General Trilochan Mohapatra during the workshop, when he talked about the employment generation ability of mushroom production activity.
Experts pointed to the advantages of mushroom cultivation. “The crop does not get affected by vagaries of climate since it is cultivated in controlled atmosphere under a roof. It requires very little space. The biggest advantage of this vocation is that it ensures up to 100 per cent profit,” he said.