Trainees trained on cutting logs for mushroom cultivation

First-ever new mushroom cultivation technology introduced in Chukha

Sawdust mushroom cultivation to be introduced nationwide soon

A 25-year-old man, Tshendra Dorji, is excited to grow oyster and shiitake mushrooms using a new mushroom cultivation method that uses technology and sawdust in a recent training session provided to him by the Jangchub Mushroom Training Institute in Chhukha.

He first started cultivating mushrooms two years ago with no knowledge and proper training in mushroom cultivation. 

Tshendra has had little formal education, but he said the basic entrepreneurship training has helped him to earn a decent livelihood.

“The training was very useful in furthering mushroom cultivation, and this time, the training in sawdust will further help a lot,” he added.

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits, loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they have long been recognized as an important part of any diet. There is also a growing demand for oyster and shiitake mushrooms in the country.

Currently, Jangchub Mushroom Farming Institute is providing the training to the entrepreneurs in Chhukha only.

The institute was established a year ago with the intention of increasing the supply of homegrown mushrooms in the domestic market. Every year, huge quantities of mushrooms are imported, as there is a high demand for it.

Now, the institute receives many interested youths and entrepreneurs who want to do mushroom farming.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has been providing basic entrepreneurship training to those interested, and lately, many youth entrepreneurs in Chukha have shown keen interest in taking up mushroom cultivation since the weather in Chuka is the most favourable for growing mushrooms.

Currently, there are 20 classes X and XII passed out youth and some college graduates who are cultivating mushroom. There are also women’s groups taking up the mushroom farming.

More than 200 youth have completed the basic entrepreneurship training in Chhukha, of which, more than 60 youth have taken up mushroom cultivation full time. There are many entrepreneurs who have taken up mushroom cultivation in Chhukha, compared to other dzongkhags in the country.

Cultivating oyster and shiitake on sawdust is easier than on oak logs, said Tshendra.

Similarly, the women’s group in Gedu inspired by Bjabchhog Amtsu Detshen in Chhukha also received mushroom training on sawdust at Jangchub Mushroom Training Institute a few days ago.

Phub Lham, a member of Amtsu Detshen, shared eleven women have just started growing shiitake mushrooms beginning this year with hardly any knowledge on it, and they could only manage to grow about 4 kg of the mushroom, but now, with the training and knowledge received, they are positive that they can increase the mushroom yield.

Similarly, Tshering Om, a high-school graduate and entrepreneur, first sold locally made snacks in her village, but after attending the training on mushroom cultivation in Chhukha, she now farms mushroom beginning this year.

Tshering is marketing the mushrooms under the brand name “Mother Made Goods”, which not only focuses on oyster mushroom, but also other locally made products. However, the mushroom business is flourishing more, she added.

“I am able to come up with different business ideas because of attending the training at the Jangchub Mushroom Training Institute,” said Tshering.

Chimi Pem, a founder of Bjabchhog Amtsu Detshen in Chhukha shared the training institute will provide mushroom cultivation on sawdust nationwide once the institute receives its certification. Many individuals in the rest of the dzongkhags have shown an immense interest in mushroom cultivation.

She said that four batches consisting of 24 youths and a group of women from Gedu have undergone mushroom training, and out of which, 20 individuals have already started mushroom cultivation in Chhukha.

The mushroom training on shiitake and oyster cultivation are completed in seven days and five days respectively. The trainees are taught how to select and cut logs used to grow the mushrooms on. However, with its first-ever mushroom cultivation in sawdust, it will now be easier to grow both oysters and shiitake.

Chimi said follow-ups are made after the training so that the knowledge on mushroom cultivation is not wasted, otherwise there are many people outside Chhukha wishing to avail themselves of the training.

She also mentioned the challenges that most farmers face when it comes to mushroom cultivation. She said since it is a fungi business, and so it is very difficult to understand the disease or the cause of mushrooms getting damaged.

It is important to understand the causes and come up with preventive ways to save the mushroom because if a single mushroom starts getting damaged, then the entire mushroom gets infected overnight. For example, most plants show signs of getting damaged like leaves turning yellow, but in the case of mushrooms, there are no signs.

“This is one of the reasons why mushroom cultivators are not able to grow mushrooms, and suffer heavy losses in commercial mushroom farms,” said Chimi.

The mushroom cultivation training for entrepreneurs in Chukha conducted at the Jangchub Mushroom Farming Institute is supported by the National Mushroom Centre.

This story was funded by the Journalists’ Association of Bhutan for Rural Reporting Grant supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiative

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