'Mushrooms build immunity'
By Papiya Bhattacharya | ENS | Published: 07th August 2013 08:22 AM |
Scientists at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bangalore, say mushrooms are nutritious as they are rich in proteins and have medicinal properties apart from being high revenue earners. Mushrooms could be a cheap food resource, say experts.
IIHR is the only institute in southern India that sells mushroom seeds to farmers and others. G Senthil Kumaran, engineer and technical officer at IIHR, has devised a mechanised process to make seeds from mushroom varieties like Oyster white (IIHR FL1), Oyster grey (IIHR CA1), Elm Oyster (IIHR HU1), Shiitake mushroom (IIHR LE1), Pink Oyster mushroom (Arka OM1). IIHR produces about 25 tons of seeds and sells it at `50-60 per kg. About 100 to 120 grams of seeds are needed to grow 1 kg of mushrooms. In the local markets, mushrooms earn about `150 to `200 per kg. Shiitake mushrooms are sold at `1,200 per kg in Bangalore.
Dr Meera Pandey, principal scientist in the Mushroom Research Lab, IIHR, said, “We had not emphasised the nutritional aspects of mushrooms. We are now fortifying them with iron to raise its content from 7 per cent to 10 per cent. This is about 20 per cent of the body’s daily requirement. Mushrooms are also a valuable source of Vitamin B Complex. The Shiitake mushroom is the only type consumed by the Japanese. We can grow it in Bangalore now during colder days. They have anti-cancer properties and also help control blood cholesterol and boost our immune system. They are being tried out as food for HIV patients.”
Dr Nita Khandekar, Principal Scientist (Agricultural Extension) in IIHR, says, “We are encouraging women from local communities to grow mushrooms in ‘Ready to fruit’ bags for `10 each, which contain the seeds of Oyster mushrooms and can be used to harvest about 250 gm of mushrooms twice per bag. These can be eaten by cooking directly or by drying and powdering them. We recommend adding the powder to rasam, chutney, juice etc.”