Growing interest in exotic mushrooms

Rohhaan, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur started his own venture – The Mushroom Company. Six years ago, Rohhaan is one of the biggest sellers of oyster and gourmet mushrooms in Mumbai, and is expanding to other states.

“Only the commonly available button variety is popular among customers in the market. But there are so many varieties of that we can consume,” Rohhaan says.

About 15 years ago, Rohhaan started working with a company to grow mushrooms. The entrepreneur feels the market was not prepared then. “People are becoming slowly aware,” he says adding the demand for mushrooms is increasing in supermarkets, restaurants and even at the residential level reports

A science graduate, Rohhaan completed a course with Pune University and initially started freelancing, training farmers and taking small scale projects.

“The commercial value was less than, and investors were also hesitant. However, some like-minded individuals decided to work together and we grew oyster mushrooms in Lonavala about 150 km from Mumbai,” Rohhaan says.

But now, the entrepreneur has three facilities in Pune, Nagpur and Lonavala growing mushroom varieties like Shiitake, Grey, Pink and Blue Oyster, King Oyster, Ganoderma Foraged, Milky Mushrooms, Lion’s Mane and Reishi.

The mushrooms are grown organically from agri-waste and without any use of pesticides or insecticides. Agriculture waste like sugarcane residue, wheat straws and dried fodder is used as a base to grow the mushrooms.

“We can’t promise the raw material to be organic, but we assure that all the processes followed in growing the fungi are chemical-free without any use of pesticides,” Rohhaan explains.

Other than the ones that are sold fresh, some of the weather-sensitive crop is susceptible to contamination or overhydration. These over-hydrated ones get dehydrated and sold as a powder or in dried forms.

The entrepreneur says that besides restaurants, finding a market for gourmet mushrooms was difficult. “I came to know about Shitake, Oyster and other gourmet varieties being grown in Imphal, but farmers were unable to sell them. Moreover, interested buyers did not know how to cook, leave aside their medicinal value,” Rohhaan tells The Better India.

To combat the issue, Rohhaan started selling mushroom growing kits and also teaching people how to consume them and their medicinal properties.

“The Cordyceps is mainly known to help ailments related to respiratory, lungs and build endurance. They help in increasing sex drive, stamina among athletes and have anti-ageing properties. The Ganoderma is known for its use in cancer treatments and to control diabetes among other benefits,” Rohhaan explains.

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