MUSHROOM PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY FOR FOOD AND MEDICINE
Mushrooms are organisms that have piqued the interests and still continue to amaze a lot of people for many generations. For a start, they are not plants. They are fungi known as BASIDIOMYCETES and are ubiquitous in distribution, meaning that they are found in every part of the world - in the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate regions of the world. Various reports and surveys have established that mushrooms have been used for a very long time by almost all people-groups as food and folkloric, traditional medicine.
Mushrooms as medicine
The reported uses of mushrooms as medicine in various parts of the world include as anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic, amongst others. Some of the species of medicinal mushrooms are prepared as infusions (teas), concoctions and tinctures.Hence, several products are in the global markets that are majorly from different species of edible and medicinal mushrooms. The medicinal uses of different species of mushrooms are the reasons many researches are on-going to explore their potentials in new drug development.
Mushrooms as food
It goes without saying that many cultures have developed several cuisines that are mushroom-based. Mushrooms are being used as healthy alternatives to red meat; as soup thickeners, and as main ingredients in different soup recipes. One major hurdle, however, for many mushroom enthusiasts is year-round availability of mushrooms. Wild species of edible and medicinal mushrooms are only abundantly available at certain periods of the year – usually during the raining seasons. But it need not be so! With low-tech methodologies, some money and a dauntless spirit, anyone can cultivate mushrooms 365 days of the year! Yes! 365 days! Plus, it doesn’t require much space! This means that young people, and old folks alike, can decide to become mushroom cultivators and contribute to the overall well-being of people around them, while making some serious money too. Currently, foreign brands of edible mushrooms (majorly from Asia) have flooded the Nigerian market. These brands are majorly preserved in brine for a long time which makes the mushroom of little benefit to the consumers. This means, if people can go into mushroom farming, consumers stand the chance of eating freshly harvested and hygienically packaged mushrooms with loads of health benefits!
TRAVIH VALENTINE ABAYOMI is an enthusiastic and passionate scientist. A botanist by profession, whose passion for research has driven him to making seemingly complex science very accessible to people without background in science. He currently manages the Mushroom Research Farm of the World Bank-funded Africa Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development in Jos, Plateau State. He also runs a private consultancy where he helps people set up their farms – from organic vegetable farming to mushroom cultivation. He has developed very simplified protocols for mushroom cultivation, making it easier for just about anyone to venture into. He has also developed organic fertilizer recipes with desirable insecticidal and fungicidal properties, making him a sought-after resource person in Plateau State and environs. Based in the picturesque city of Jos, he is happily married to Ifeoluwa, and they are blessed with two children.