Mushroom is in fact the flowering part of the plant referred to as FUNGI by mycologists and plant pathologists. Here in Nigeria, it is referred to by various communities by different names.
In nature this phenomenon is produced through the accumulation of the seed of mushroom dispersed by the numerous agents or forces of nature e.g. flood, wind, erosion etc in the areas where mushrooms occur. A single seed or spore of mushroom is hardly visible to the naked eye, but accumulated, they appear as white patches over fields or areas of land or forest, in many cases identifiable through aeriel surveys.
NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES OF MUSHROOM
- Most mushrooms and in particular oyster mushrooms on the average dry weight contain 19-35% high quality protein for good health. In fact, most nutrition experts refer to mushroom as a ‘wonder protein rich food’.
- The fat in mushroom is less than 8% dry weight which is better for health than the saturated fatty acids in animal fats.
- Mushroom contains very little carbohydrates, and so ideal for diabetic patients and people prone to obesity.
- Mushroom contains minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, iron, etc which makes it ideal for health.
- Oyster mushroom has very high content of vitamins B1 and B2 in addition to vitamins A, C, E and K.
- The high fibre content of mushroom is an invaluable advantage over other food items for easier and better digestion and assimilation in the alimentary canal.
HEALTH AND MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF MUSHROOM
- Most mushrooms have exceptional medicinal potentials and properties- curative and prophylactic, especially in diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma, respiratory tracts infections, anaemia, rheumatism, diabetes, hepatitis, cancer, tumor etc.
- And because of their low cholesterol content, they improve resistance to other diseases. Mushroom is recommended by many medical experts for pregnant women, practising vegetarians, nursing mothers, under nourished children and people with bad sight. Research is currently on-going in Swaziland in the use of ganoderma mushroom to treat HIV/AIDS patients with encouraging results.
- Chinese scientists have proved Reshi mushroom a real asset to human longevity and good health.
- Selenium in mushroom is known to be invaluable in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer, a killer disease among black adult males.
With the availability of spawn i.e. seed of mushroom, mushroom cultivation is the most profitable agricultural venture all over the world, and mushroom yield for any given space of land is the highest in any part of the world. With our climatic condition, mushroom can be cultivated and harvested in Nigeria all year round i.e. from January to December. The benefits of mushroom cultivation include:-
- Land area not a limiting factor. Planting is both vertical and horizontal.
- Maximum utilization of waste land.
- No sunlight required.
- No requirement of weeding
- Creates immense job opportunity for women, youths, pensioners, children, the disabled, and people with low income.
- There is a ready market at home and abroad.
- Disposal of environmental wastes.
- Use of spent substrate as organic manure, animal feed and source of power.
- Opens avenues for ancillary services and mushroom processing industries- canning, pharmaceuticals, bottling etc.