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Give Me My Daily Mushroom

Dr. Meera Pandey, ICAR-IIHR
Dr. Meera Pandey, ICAR-IIHR
mushroom

Mushrooms are plants without chlorophyll. They are vegetables which are powerhouse of nutrients. Mushrooms are highly nutritious in terms of proteins, B vitamins, and the lone and excellent source of vegetarian vitamin D, minerals like iron with high bioavailability, potassium and phosphorus. They are recommended food for type 2 diabetic patients due to very low glycemic index and high fiber. They are excellent foods for cardiac health due to very low sodium, high potassium and zero cholesterol. Mushrooms are also immune boosters. Although mushrooms are excellent nutrition source for vegetarians and a very delicious way to reduce the intake of non vegetarian food; yet have not become a part of daily Indian diet.

Mushrooms often have been projected as food for God and for the Elite. They have been sold at prices beyond the buying capacity of an average Indian family. ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Hesaraghatta, Bengaluru is the pioneer institute on Mushroom Research in India which has been consistently working towards making mushrooms as a part of daily Indian diet of every home so that mushrooms in their own humble way may contribute towards country’s nutrition security and mitigation of malnutrition.

vegetables

The ‘Ready to Fruit’ (RTF) Bag technology was developed at ICAR-IIHR in 2013 to bring mushrooms to rural homes in the villages where there is space, skill and resource constraints. The rural women were trained and made aware about the nutritive and health aspects of mushrooms and the ways in which mushrooms could be incorporated to suite their daily diet e.g. Arka Mushroom rasam powder, Arka Mushroom chutney powders, Mushroom Pulyogare powder etc. Women were provided with pre-seeded and fully grown RTF bags which they could hang in their homes and harvest mushrooms in 5-6 days. 250-300g of mushroom can be harvested from each 1 kg RTF bag. If bag opening is done in a planned and staggered way; this technology can make available mushrooms to every home on a daily basis. The RTF bags have not only become popular in resource crunched rural households but also in the urban homes with space constraints.  As the household mushroom consumption increases so will the demand for RTF bags. Hence ICAR-IIHR has modeled this technology into an entrepreneurial activity which can be taken up by individuals or on community basis through SHGs or NGOs by investing in establishing  RTF bag production unit.

The RTF bag production unit comprises of a straw storage, straw cutting, straw soaking, mixing and bag filling shed, sterilization chamber, inoculation chamber and incubation or growth chamber. Machinery required will be motorized chaff cutter to cut straw, ICAR-IIHR designed multifuel boiler with chamber for sterilization. Efforts can be made to create a rural urban network through RTF bag production so that the rural areas with ample raw material and labor can become the RTF bag production hub which can be marketed in the urban areas. ICAR-IIHR has collaborated with many public, private and Non-Government organizations to establish RTF bag production units. The vision of ICAR-IIHR is to make the RTF technology so popular that anyone can walk up the nearest grocery store and pick up a few RTF bags to grow mushrooms in their kitchen garden.

Author

Dr. Meera Pandey

Principal Scientist, Mushroom Research lab

ICAR-IIHR, Hesaraghatta, Bengaluru-560089

E-mail: Meera.Pandey1@icar.gov.in

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