The Attorney General and Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, effected a site visit, on Monday at the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute’s (FAREI) Mushroom Unit, Experimental Station at La Brasserie. The visit coincided with the first harvest of Button mushroom cultivated on an experimental basis.
In a statement, Minister Gobin lauded the staff of Mushroom Research Facility of FAREI for having successfully obtained Button mushroom pinheads and fruiting bodies at the experiment room set up for research work pending the setting up of an environment controlled growing room. He stressed that this market with a rich potential should be developed so that the population can benefit from fresh mushrooms at a more affordable price.
He indicated that Mauritius is a net importer of mushroom with an annual import value amounting to Rs 112 million. The Mauritian market is well acquainted with the Button mushroom (Agaricus Spp) which is available both in fresh/chilled or canned, he recalled. Button mushroom, however, he pointed out, is not cultivated locally while adding that last year, some 1 430 tons of mushroom, estimated at around Rs 115.6 million, were imported.
Minister Gobin underlined that in order to introduce Button mushroom strains and pioneer its cultivation locally, a project was submitted for funding under the European Union’s initiative known as ‘Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA). The objective of the DeSIRA initiative is to boost innovation in agriculture and food systems transformation of partner countries with a view to be more resilient to the effects of climate change.
The overall objective of the project was to introduce new mushroom strains of commercial interest notably the Button mushroom and to get acquainted with associated production techniques locally available materials. According to the Minister, a multidisciplinary team at FAREI, comprising of specialists from different disciplines, has benefitted from a two-week training from 17 to 26 May 2022. The training was delivered by a resource person from Chennai.
For her part, Mrs Priya Futty Beejan, Research Scientist at the FAREI, spoke of the nutritional values of mushroom and the growing interest of mushroom growers in the novel cultivation of Bottom mushroom. She further dwelt on the various steps in experimental mushroom farming including the formulation of substrate mixture and determination of composting methods; the inoculation/colonisation environment; casing and aeration for triggering of fructification; and post-harvest/processing aspects.