Karsang Dorji, an entrepreneur based in Thimphu, has designed solar and electric incubators to help in year round cultivation of Shiitake mushrooms.
“Those interested in Shiitake mushroom cultivation need not wait for seasonal or altitude suitability to grow the mushrooms during winter; it can be grown anywhere without such limitations. Since there are not many who grow shiitake mushroom during winter, the winter harvest fetches good income,” said Karsang Dorji, who is also the CEO at Green Manufacturing & Repairing.
The domestic incubator can be used for small scale production or self consumption at home and project incubator is for large scale cultivations. Karsang explained that the incubator works through an automated system, which does not require any manual work.
“The incubator will automatically regulate the required temperatures for growing shiitake mushroom during off season and set in the favorable temperatures inside the mushroom shed,” he said. “During the day, the technology will function with the help of solar energy to regulate the temperatures and at the night the incubators will function with the help of electricity by switching to maintain the required temperatures for mushroom fruiting.”
Karsang Dorji also mentioned that the stages of cultivation such as soaking and pinning, which usually take several days, could be done in one phase with his latest invention. “It only takes about eight days for fruiting after soaking, provided your billets are healthy enough. The pinning and fruiting can be automatically done by the incubator and does not require your attention,” said Karsang.
Karsang said that with the current practices, the incubation process period normally takes a year, which sometimes does not also guarantee successful yield; this he said will change with his incubators. “After experimenting with the technologies, we found that the incubators not only takes a shorter duration of seven months, but it also guarantees successful fruiting of the mushrooms,” he said adding that he is working on bringing down the incubation period to five or six months which will be the fastest incubation time for shiitake mushroom in Bhutan.
The same incubators, with some changes in the design set, can also be used to cultivate off season vegetables and fruit. “Currently I’m experimenting with cultivation of potato.”
Karsang said that the main objective behind the auto solar and electric incubator is to achieve year round cultivation and stop the import of shiitake mushroom. It can also be used in growing other types of off-season mushrooms besides shiitake. “I’m planning to demonstrate to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry next year during the winter production which is an apt time for them to assess my works,” said Karsang Dorji.
Earlier, Karsang Dorji was also in the news for coming up with better means of growing Shiitake mushrooms year round for the first time in Bhutan after discovering suitable fruiting logs for better yields.