CITY OF SAN FERNANDO--The Department of Agriculture (DA) is calling on farmers in Pampanga to explore the possibilities of venturing into mushroom production as an extra source of income.

DA Regional Director Redentor Gatus said that this call came as the DA intensified its on-going mushroom production program through the Tarlac-based Central Luzon Integrated Agricultural Research Center for Lowland Development (DA-CLIARCLD).

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Gatus had earlier urged the DA-CLIARCLD to step up its efforts on mushroom propagation so it would be able to lend assistance to the farmers in the region by being their source of supplemental income.

Emily Soriano, project leader for tissue culture, together with Dr. Irene Adion, the station chief, are the proponents of the mushroom cultivation program and likewise share primary responsibility for its continual implementation.

The mushroom project is similarly geared toward increasing the income of farmers by providing them with alternative agri-based livelihood opportunities through mushroom production.

Agricultural waste products such as rice straws, sugarcane bagasse, banana leaves, water lilies, corn stalks and corn cobs, are also converted into beneficial agricultural inputs in producing mushroom.

Mushroom production is also a lucrative agribusiness venture that needs minimal capital input and provides high return on investment. It is likewise an untapped market among health conscious consumers and in the booming health products industry.

The Central Luzon region also satisfies the physical and environmental requirements for the cultivation of tropical mushrooms because of its hot and humid climate, according to Gatus.

The said project likewise provides hands-on training on mushroom tissue culture propagation and conducts researches which focus on low cost materials and equipment for mushroom proliferation, mushroom fruit processing technologies for commercialization, supply and demand studies and market linkages.

Aside from this, it is also expanding its in-house production of mushroom spawns and fruits using inexpensive post-production preservation techniques. It will be used for the development of mushroom products with commercial potentials such as mushroom powder, mushroom wine, mushroom tocino and longganisa and mushroom candies.

The mushroom project also holds technology demonstrations and on-site coaching in tandem with the municipal agricultural offices within Central Luzon.

Some of the mushroom species cultured at the Tarlac-based research center include oyster mushroom (pleurotus), straw mushroom (volvariella), ganoderma and auricularia.