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Oyster mushroom cultivation
Mushroom cultivation although uncomplicated, requires willingness to learn, hard work and an adherences to some well-defined guidelines. Oyster mushroom cultivation has the potential of converting agricultural waste into protein rich nutritional products. These mushrooms can be produced from locally available agricultural waste products such as wood chips, sawdust, straws as well as seed hulls and veld grass. With the use of such resources, mushroom production can be pursued throughout the year
Mushroom house infrastructure
The technology for oyster mushroom cultivation is affordable and very simple making it an ideal for rural and peri-urban marginalized social groups but also for entrepreneurs and youth. The infrastructure necessary for oyster mushroom production can be built from locally available materials such as thatch grass, straw and mud.
Nutritional aspects of oyster mushrooms
Mushrooms are well known for their nutritional values including:
- Their high protein content (23-27% which is approximately 3.3g per 100g) makes them ideal to fight malnutrition and protein deficit in grain based diets
- If dried they can be mixed with porridge and fed to children and elders improving their protein intake (fortified paps).
- Have all nine essential amino acids and vitamins such as thianine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B12), biotin and ascorbic acid.
- Mushrooms are also well known for their good supply of high quality crude fibre, folic acid and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.
- With their low fat content (1% to 8% on dry weight), mushrooms are low in cholesterol, have little sugar and no starch and ideal for diabetics and those with weight problems.
- Besides, most mushrooms have medicinal value with a definite effect on blood pressure, tumors and viruses.
Other uses of oyster mushrooms
The mushroom substrate also referred to as spent substrate can be used as compost or animal feed as they contain bioactive nutrients and enzymes that act as potent anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents to increase the nutritional value of animal food products and prevents various diseases that afflict animals in the food chain.
Four stages in mushroom production
STEP1: Tissue culture preparation
A piece is cut from the internal fruit body of a mushroom or from a pure culture and laid on a potato dextrose agar (PDA) media in petri dish. This process is called tissue culture isolation: a method that makes use of a fruiting body that has the potential or the ability to grow onto mycelia to gain a genuine strain. Although PDA is affordable alternative available substrates can be used.
STEP 2: Spawn preparation
Spawns are made from the tissue culture in step 1. Spawns can be defined as the seeds of mushrooms. This is actually the second stage in mushroom cultivation and it is here where primary mycelia grow into secondary mycelia which is regarded as strong. Strong mycelia have the ability to decompose and are regarded as high yielding and of good quality. During this stage the mycelia is transferred from tissue culture into containers with grains (a process called inoculation).
STEP 3: Substrate preparation
One can use a wide range of agricultural waste such as straw from maize, millet, sorghum or crushed corn cobs, veld grass and coffee residues as substrate for mushrooms. Chop your substrate into pieces of about 5-10cm long and place it in sacks. The substrate is often soaked in water and drained for a specified period of time before packed into inoculation bags.
STEP 4: Fruiting stage
The first fruit appears in 4 to 6 weeks from the day the bags are inoculated and it takes about 5 days for the mushroom to grow to their full size.
In conclusion, oyster mushroom production is an ideal activity to generate income, reduce waste and fight malnutrition in communal and periurban areas. However, although uncomplicated, requires willingness to learn, hard work and an adherences to some well-defined guidelines.
Mushroom cultivation, ZERI Regional Project: University of Namibia http://www.unam.edu.na/sites/default/files/newsletter/zeri_poster_on_cultivation.pdf