Mushroom cultivation has gained popularity in the recent years and has emerged as a promising agro-based land-independent business. The Department of Crop Sciences at the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) is offering a course on Mushroom Cultivation to the undergraduate students.
Dr. Rethinasamy Velazhahan from the Department of Crop Sciences at SQU said that this course is designed to provide students with knowledge on biology and cultivation of edible mushrooms. “The students acquire practical knowledge in spawn production and cultivation of edible mushrooms using different locally available materials including date palm leaves, Rhodes grass etc., which help develop confidence in them to take up mushroom production as a self-employment venture”, he said. “The course would give the students hands-on experience and knowledge to grow mushrooms successfully for food and other applications. The students will understand the mushroom cultivation process through experiential learning, applying their new skills directly in on-site grow operation”, he added. Dr. Rethinasamy Velazhahan, Dr. Abdullah Mohammed Al-Sadi and Mr. Yousif Al-Maqbaly from the Department of Crop Sciences at SQU have played a major role in introducing the course on mushroom cultivation and giving hands-on training to the undergraduate students of the college.
Mushrooms are a good source of protein, non-starchy carbohydrates, dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins such as biotin, folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, C and D. Mushrooms contain higher levels of proteins than most vegetables. Furthermore, the proteins present in the mushrooms are of high quality and are rich in essential amino acids. Mushrooms contain no cholesterol and contain negligible quantity of fat. Several mushrooms are active against diabetes, hypertension, cancer, hypercholesterolemic conditions etc. “Furthermore, antioxidant, antigenotoxic, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antiviral, antithrombotic and immunomodulation properties of mushrooms have been reported”, Dr. Velazhahan said.
Several edible mushrooms such as button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes), oyster mushroom (Pleurotus spp.), paddy straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea), milky mushroom (Calocybe spp.) and Jew’s ear mushroom (Auricularia sp.) are being cultivated commercially worldwide. White button mushroom is the most popular and commonly consumed mushroom in the world. Button mushroom requires 24±2°C during its vegetative phase (spawn run) and 16-18°C during its reproductive phase and relative humidity of 80-90%. Specially prepared compost is used as substrate for cultivation of button mushroom.
Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus spp.) can grow at temperature ranging from 20-30°C and at a relative humidity of 55-70%. The fruit bodies of this mushroom are shell shaped. Several species of oyster mushrooms including P. sajor-caju, P. citrinopileatus, P. eous, P. ostreatus, P. florida, P. djmor, P. eryngii etc. are being cultivated commercially worldwide. These mushrooms are considered as a functional food, since they provide health benefits in addition to their nutritive value. “Oyster mushroom spawn can be prepared by using cereal grains such as wheat, sorghum, corn etc. Oyster mushrooms can be cultivated on various substrates such as paddy straw, wheat straw, maize stalks/cobs, cotton stalks, sugarcane bagasse, peanut shells, dried grasses, sunflower stalks, used tealeaf waste, saw dust, discarded waste paper etc. Oyster mushroom does not require compost and controlled environmental conditions as in the case of button mushroom”, the researchers said.