THE Province of Negros Occidental, through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), is stepping up its efforts to increasing mushroom production.

Alex Lecciones, provincial agriculturist II, yesterday said mushroom is one of the complementing commodities of the province under its organic agriculture program.

Lecciones said that through the Capitol-run mushroom laboratory located at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City, OPA is assisting local growers by providing them demonstration and distribution services.

“There is currently a potential market for mushroom,” he said, adding that the province is still deficit in terms of supply which local growers may take as an opportunity to increase their production.

Aside from individual and group growers, the mushroom laboratory mainly caters to the members of the Negros Association of Mushroom Growers (Namgro), covering about 7, 500 square meters of backyard-type plantations in the cities of Bacolod and Himamaylan and the towns of Hinigaran and Murcia.

In terms of volume, the 12 active commercial grower-members currently produce an average of 360 to 600 kilograms weekly, OPA records showed.

Lecciones pointed out that growing mushroom involves thorough procedures thus, the province provides monthly trainings among local growers.

Aside from demonstration, the mushroom laboratory also supplies them planting materials at cheaper prices – P100 to P150 for planting and mother spawn, respectively.

Lecciones said the province is utilizing the sales generated to fund the trainings and purchase of revolving materials, mainly mushroom spawns.

“The province’s measures to further increase mushroom production will continue,” he said, adding that “we aim to make the province to become self-sufficient of the commodity this year.”

Aside from spawns, the mushroom laboratory also grows and sells mature mushrooms at a farm gate price of P250 per kilo.

Commercial growers in the province, who have the same average farm gate prices, already have steady markets mainly restaurants and hotels.

They also have regular stalls and booths during the Panaad sa Negros Festival and Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival.

“Considered as a high value vegetable, there is really profit in mushroom production. It is an emerging industry being considered by the province now,” the Lecciones added.