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How to Start an Oyster Mushroom Business For Profits in Lakhs? 5 Farmers Share Trade Secrets

Oyster mushrooms are sold for as much as Rs 200 per kg, resulting in profitable businesses for several farmers. How to start growing them? Here are some tips from those who found success.

How to Start an Oyster Mushroom Business For Profits in Lakhs? 5 Farmers Share Trade Secrets

A paper published in the ‘International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research’ highlighted the numerous benefits of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus). It revealed that mushrooms possess antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties.

Amid many oyster mushroom businesses emerging, we’ve gathered successful ventures in this field. If you’re considering entering the mushroom business, here are some helpful tips to begin:

1. Control the amount of light

Kota based Yashraj Sahu has set up a soil-less mushroom farm
Kota-based Yashraj Sahu has set up a soil-less mushroom farm, Picture source: Yashraj

In contrast to other plants, oyster mushrooms being fungi, thrive in areas where sunlight is minimal. Small amounts of light are needed to signal to the mycelium (the root-like structure of the mushroom) that it is time to fruit. But, direct sunlight can often hinder the growth and dry the mushrooms out.

This is what Kota-based college student Yashraj Sahu and his friend Rahul Meena discovered when they set up a soil-less mushroom farm. The duo’s first harvest yielded 1,000 kg of oyster mushrooms. They credited controlling the amount of sunlight as the roadmap to victory.

Sahu added he covered the setup with a green net to ensure sunlight did not enter.

2. Cool the setup

Delhi-based Geeta Arunachalam uses stubble to grow oyster mushrooms
Delhi-based Geeta Arunachalam uses stubble to grow oyster mushrooms, Picture source: Geeta

Oyster mushrooms are known to thrive in cooler climes. That being said, chilly winters and extreme heat deter growth. A temperature of 20 degrees Celsius and humidity of 70 percent is optimal for the fungi.

However, Delhi resident Geeta Arunachalam found a way to grow the mushrooms in any temperature zone, provided you follow this tip.

She says, “As per the process, the shed walls can be built out of straw blocks and then smeared with a coating of clay and cow dung, and then covered with burlap sacking. The wall needs to be regularly sprinkled with water to maintain the ideal humidity level between 50 to 70 percent. These walls also help in keeping the shed insulated against extreme temperatures, thus allowing the mushrooms inside to flourish.”

3. Find a rhythm that works

Jitu Thomas and his mother grow oyster mushrooms in a 5000 square feet farm
Jitu Thomas and his mother grow oyster mushrooms in a 5,000 square feet farm, Picture source: Jitu

When Ernakulam’s Jitu Thomas sowed mushroom seeds in a packet at the age of 19, he did not fathom this would be the first step to a booming business. Today, he and his mother run ‘Leena’s Mushroom Farm’ where they grow oyster mushrooms in a 5,000 square feet farm space earning thousands every day.

Jitu cautions, “The crop is fragile and extremely sensitive. A minute change in temperature or the advent of pests can ruin the crop completely,” when asked how he manages to reap great harvests.

“Consider the first six months as the trial period. Level up only after that when you feel it’s manageable and profitable,” he adds.

4. Sterilisation is key

Odisha's Santosh Mishra learned the importance of sterilisation while growing oyster mushrooms
Odisha’s Santosh Mishra learned the importance of sterilisation while growing oyster mushrooms, Picture source: Santosh

While growing oyster mushrooms on a substrate, there’s a high chance that the media could become contaminated with bacteria and other fungi. These organisms could hinder the growth of your mushrooms. Autoclaving the substrate helps achieve a temperature of 121 degrees Celsius, preventing any unfavourable growth.

Odisha’s Santosh Mishra learned this the hard way. When he began his journey with oyster mushrooms, his first yield was only three pieces.

“I was disheartened, but I focused on understanding the mistake,” he says. “I understood that as I did not sterilise either the soil or my hands before preparing the mushroom bed, I got a very poor yield. Sterilisation is the main component of mushroom cultivation. After trial and error, now I get up to 7 kg from one bed.”

5. Beware of contaminants

To eliminate contaminants Gujarat's Anjana Gamit uses neem oil
To eliminate contaminants Gujarat’s Anjana Gamit uses neem oil, Picture source: Anjana

Growing any kind of foliage comes with the risk of pests and insects feeding on it. Gujarat engineer Anjana Gamit, who runs a booming oyster mushroom farm, pitches in on how you can control this nuisance.

“To overcome the contamination problem, I use neem oil. And to prevent humidity from spoiling the spawns, I use an extra layer of coverage on the green shade net,” she says, adding that she moistens the curtains and hangs them on all four sides of the shed.

Edited by Pranita Bhat

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