Experts at the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) Ibadan, have explored the many benefits of mushrooms and its cultivation, saying it contributes to human livelihood economically, nutritionally and medicinally.
The experts highlighted the importance of mushrooms in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the Oyo State capital.
A Botanist, Dr Olufunmi Idowu, said that the protein content of mushroom was almost equal to that of milk, corn and legumes, adding that it contained more protein than potato and cabbage.
“Mushrooms are high in certain vitamins such as B, C and D; they contain high levels of riboflavin, thiamine and nicotinic acid.
“They are also known to contain the anti-pellagra vitamin, niacin content, which is nearly equivalent to the levels found in pork and beef.
“They contain iron, potassium, phosphorous, in addition to folic acid; they are rich in sodium, making them ideal for persons with certain types of heart and kidney ailments,” he said.
Idowu said that mushroom growing was not just a rapidly expanding agric business, but a significant tool for restoration, replenishment and remediation of earth’s overburdened ecosphere.
“With increasing concern about the depletion of resources, release of toxic substances into the environment, it is encouraging that the cultivation of mushroom can help to tip the scale in nature’s favour, thereby benefitting all the inhabitants of planet earth,” Idowu said.
Dr Ifeoluwapo Amao, an Agric Economist, said that mushrooms could generate additional income and employment through local, regional and national trade, adding, “it enhances women empowerment’’.
Amao said that the sale of mushrooms gave high returns on investments because of the possibility of making up to 100 per cent of initial capital within the first six months of production.
The agric economist said that it was a fast moving business, which required one to set a target, depending on one’s scope and ability to connect with individual consumers or expand the contacts.
“Value can be added to mushrooms by drying and repackaging it for sale to various consumers including exportation,” she said.
Amao said that for the marketing of the commodity to be successful and profitable, the consumers to whom the produce would be sold should be considered.
“Different segments of the population to which mushrooms can be marketed include family members, friends, neighbours, markets, hotels, expatriate communities, among others.
“However, for marketers and producers to realise the optimum economic benefits from its sales, an understanding of its marketing strategies is very essential,” Amao said.
NIHORT has the mandate to conduct research into genetic improvement, production, processing, utilisation and marketing of fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and spices.
Mushroom, ginger and turmeric are important mandate crops of the institute.