Enhancing Mushroom cultivation in the region – A potential commercial crop for intensification
– Thinley Gyeltshen, Tshering Dorji, Subbash Ranna, ARDSC Khangma
Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and Oyster (Pleurotus sp.) are focused mushrooms for production in eastern Bhutan. Rationalized by the increasing loss of arable land to urbanization and industrialization, the threat of climate change is severe on farming. Thus, mushroom farming is the best substitute farming practice. It is climatically suitable in any agro-ecological zones provided with proper cropping shed. Economically, mushroom farming is cost-effective and plays a vital role in the ecosystem. Mushroom farming in the eastern region is increasing every year covering all the Dzongkhags, yet the production remains at comparatively lower scale to suffice the demands in the domestic markets. Every year, a huge quantity of mushroom is imported: Oyster and Button mushroom from India and Shiitake and Wood ear mushroom from Thailand and China to meet the demand.
Therefore, the mushroom program based at the Agriculture Research and Development Sub-center, Khangma in collaboration with Dzongkhag and gewog agriculture sector is encouraging the early school leavers and interested farmers to take up mushroom farming as a business enterprise. Currently, the mushroom program has established 7 commercial mushroom farms with financial support from Rural Enterprise and Development Corporation Limited (REDCL). The mushroom program also encourages the youth to take up spawn production unit as a full-time employment. It is a profitable business since the demand for Oyster spawn is high in the region. Thus, mushroom farming is another solution to address the youth unemployment issue and curb down the rate of rural- urban migration. The focus is also shifted from small-scale farming to commercial mushroom farming.