Imagine being able to start your own agricultural business with little or no capital at all. A mushroom farming business is one of the most profitable agricultural business ideas you can start right now in India and start making huge profits in a few weeks.
Plus, starting your own business growing oyster mushrooms for profit is fairly easy. There are many different ways to start a mushroom farm. In fact, you can even set up a mushroom farm in your existing house without farmland.
In this post, we explore the commercial viability of starting a mushroom farming business that is profitable in India.
How to start a mushroom farming business.
Different types of mushroom have different production cost and it is important to decide on a budget depending on the amount of money available and the long term investment benefit. A good variety to start mushroom farming with is the Oyster mushroom.
Step 1 – Prepare and environment for farming.
The most appropriate and cost-effective structure for mushroom production is grass-thatched mud house. An 8 by 10 feet structure is enough to grow mushrooms.
Ensure that the house is rodent-proof to keep off rats. It also has to be initially dark before introducing some light later on. Mushrooms, which have 80 to 90 percent water content, need a humid environment to thrive. To achieve that, sprinkle water in the room throughout the day.
Step 2 – Get Spawn and Substrate for farming.
To start off, you need the spawn, which is basically the mushroom ‘seed’. Domesticated mushrooms are not grown in soil but in a substrate, which is what you mix the spawn with. A substrate is made up of agricultural waste.
Almost anything that is cultivated on land is a potential substrate for mushroom cultivation e.g. wheat straw, rice, banana and coconut waste, maize cobs, sawdust, and even water hyacinth.
Step 3 – Put the Substrate and Spawn in bags.
You need bags for placing the substrate and spawn in to sprout the mushrooms. Polythene bags with a 2kg capacity are ideal. Pack two or three inches of straw into the plastic bag and then lightly sprinkle the spawn on top. Repeat this until you’ve almost filled the bag, close the top and poke holes in the bag.
Step 4 – Incubation period.
Once inoculated, the bags should be left to incubate. Depending on the mushroom variety, humidity, and temperature, this process should take between 1 to 3 weeks. During incubation, light is not required, however, make sure the bags have plenty of fresh air.
It is important to monitor the bags for any sign of unwanted molds and pests. While the straw is still in the bags, you shouldn’t have a problem with insects or mice. However, the best policy for fighting both contamination and infestation is prevention.
Step 5 – Fruiting.
Once the growing medium is fully colonized by the spawn, it is time for the mushrooms to start fruiting. The bags are exposed to autumn-like conditions with fresh oxygen, high humidity, low-level light & often cooler temperatures.
While various species require different temperature regimes all require high humidity 70-80% during fruiting. Frequent spraying of water is necessary for the cropping room depending upon the environmental humidity.
Step 6 – Harvesting and Storage.
Just before your mushroom caps are fully uncurled, that’s when it’s time to harvest. To do so, twist the stem off as near to the growing block as you are able to. You’ve now harvested your mushrooms.
The freshly harvested mushroom can be stored at low temperature (0-5°c) for a maximum of two weeks. Dried mushroom with 2-4% moisture, can be stored for 3-4 months in sealed pouches without any change in taste.
Cost of setting up a mushroom farm.
Mushroom cultivation is cheap as it requires little space and simple structures. For instance, 1 kg of spawn will cost approximately 425 Rupees and would be enough for approximately 40 bags. Each bag would yield between two kilos to 2.5kg of mushrooms.
Before you start commercial mushroom production, it would be helpful to establish a ready market however small that you can sell to because mushroom is a very sensitive crop that can be preserved for too long.
Growing mushroom under a controlled condition is of recent origin. Its popularity is growing and it has become a business which is export-oriented.
The cultivation of mushroom is an art and requires both study and experience. High-quality commercial cultivation of mushroom is a very profitable proposition as it is in good demand both in a domestic and foreign market.