A Plant Physiologist, Dr. Olufunmilayo Idowu, has cautioned that not all mushrooms were edible, saying some are poisonous and leathery when mature.
Idowu, of the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday.
According to her, some of the edible ones include; reishi mushroom, white oyster and milky white mushrooms.
She said that the fear of eating the poisonous ones comes with eating the wild forms, as all cultivated varieties are certified for edibility either as food or medicine.
“There are some wild mushrooms that are edible while some may be found on our farms or back yards.
“If you are not sure of its edibility, please don’t eat it, it is better not to eat mushroom at all than to eat unverified ones; only cultivated ones are advised.
“You can get the cultivated ones from supermarkets, grocery shops or buy ready to fruit mushroom substrate bags from a cultivator,’’ she said.
The plant physiologist noted that Ganoderma lucidium, popularly called reishi mushroom, is reputed for its medicinal property.
She said that the Asians call reishi the mushroom of immortality as it is known to boost immunity and indicated in the prevention of tumours and treatment of all forms of cancer.
“The mushroom is tropical in nature and grows on a wide range of woody agro-industrial wastes; these wastes are available in large quantities in Nigeria which made its cultivation possible.
“We have commercial markets for mushrooms across the country where people can buy, especially in grocery sections of major supermarkets, some local grocery stores and lots of farmers are engaging in its production.
“It can be produced all the year round because the production is done indoors,’’ Idowu said.
He said that the challenges of production are poor awareness of its production, fear of mushroom poisoning, lack of awareness of recipes to which it can be prepared and getting initial start up capital, amongst others.
“Mushrooms contain high quality protein as found in animal proteins, they are very low in calorie, contain essential vitamins and minerals including antioxidants such as selenium and ergotheinine which are cancer cells fighters,’’ she said.
Idowu, also a Research Scientist at NIHORT, said that mushroom cultivation could generate and improve family income through its sales.
According to her, it has quick returns as planting to harvesting takes just a month.
She further emphasised that the benefits of mushrooms could be harnessed by acquiring the technology of its cultivation, producing, eating and selling the product.
“Its cultivation can be another area of diversification in agribusiness,’’ she said.
Also, a mushroom farmer, Mrs Olujoke Leshi, said that people could engage in mushroom cultivation because it creates another source of income and the consumption would increase protein intake of the populace, thereby enhancing good health.
Leshi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Joles Mushrooms Ibadan, said that with the increase rate of inflation, one could not depend on salary alone, hence the need for another source of income.
“The more you produce, the more the benefits, although after the production, the first harvest is always massive, but the subsequent ones would decrease.
“One of the challenges is that the cost incurred in the production and profit must be spread on the price of the mushrooms.
“Customers think that the price should be low because they see it as common vegetable which can be picked anywhere, but we are not picking, we are producing which makes the price a bit high,’’ she said.
She said that most farmers are afraid of where to sell the mushrooms.
“The production process is energy intensive, one must be diligent in every aspect of the production, for preservation, freezing is somehow difficult due to inconsistency in power supply,’’ she said. (NAN)