Why is mushroom farming gaining popularity?
In recent years, many urban gardeners, as well as small farmers, are venturing into mushroom farming as it is becoming a good choice for starting a profitable business. Mushrooms are known to be an excellent source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, thus forming the key to a balanced diet. Given its immense health benefits, more and more people are opting for mushrooms in their diet. The rising consciousness for nutrient-rich foods has led to a rise in demand for this superfood and opened new possibilities for farmers to start a mushroom farming business.
The fact that it requires little space or land makes it a lucrative option for both rural farmers who have small landholdings or urban farmers who want to start cultivation out of their homes. Mushrooms can grow without sunlight or fertile soil, require low investment and little maintenance. Thus, many farmers are growing mushrooms on a part-time basis. Mushroom farming can also improve the sustainability of farming practices through recycling agro wastes, which otherwise pollute the soil.
Different types of mushrooms
There are mainly 3 different types of mushrooms cultivated in India-
- Button Mushrooms- These creamy white to pale tan mushrooms offer a firm texture and a unique flavor. Predominantly grown during the winter season, these are the most popular variety in the country. Known for their delicious and juicy taste, they are also extremely economical. Button mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of recipes.
- Oyster Mushrooms- Oyster mushrooms are available in a wide range of colors and are known to be the most beneficial for human health. Consuming this variety of mushrooms can drastically reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer due to its low-fat content. Grown in the northern plains of India, it is much preferred by farmers as it has a simple production process.
- Paddy straw Mushrooms- The paddy straw mushroom can grow in temperatures from 35-40 degrees celsius and requires fairly low investment. This variety of mushrooms offers great taste, aroma, and nutrients. Mostly grown in south-east Asia, this variety fruits quickly, usually 5-7 days from spawning.
Where to sell your mushrooms?
1. Restaurants- The growing consumer awareness around the health benefits of mushrooms has led to a sharp rise in demand. Restaurants and hotels are quickly incorporating mushrooms into their menus. Thus, this would be a great channel for you to reach out to. Restaurants are always open to sourcing their ingredients from a local grower who can bring freshness and quality to their dishes. Hand out free samples to the chef to try your product. If the restaurant likes the quality, you can get yourself a weekly order based on their demand.
2. Farmers Markets- Many customers today are shifting towards a vegetarian diet. Mushrooms are therefore being used as a substitute for meat, pushing customers to experiment and try new varieties of mushrooms. There is also a rising interest in fresh and local food due to which urban consumers are flocking to these weekly farmer’s markets. Thus, selling your mushrooms at the local farmer’s markets can be extremely lucrative, as customers are willing to pay a fair price for the quality.
3. Selling online- This is a great way to sell your mushrooms if you are looking for convenience. Check out apps like Farmsnation which aim to empower farmers by helping them find customers in their area. As a farmer, all you have to do is upload your product details, images, price, etc and Farmsnation will take care of the rest. Farmsnation aims to provide sales education and e-commerce tools so that farmers are able to attract more customers. Customers who come to the app are majorly looking for quality foods that they can’t find at their nearby grocery store. Hence this would be a good place to sell your high-quality, gourmet mushrooms.
4. Dried mushrooms- If certain mushrooms in your produce turn out less-than-perfect, you can still make them sale-worthy. All you have to do is dry them using a good quality dehydrator and package them well. These dried mushrooms offer a more intense, peculiar taste and increased flavor. This is a very niche market currently and it would be a good time for you to build your foothold in this segment. You can also look at exporting these dried mushrooms or selling them at a fine-dine hotel.
5. Packaged products- Customers today are open to trying new foods, and food producers are making use of this opportunity. As a mushroom cultivator, you can use your mushrooms to make delicious mushroom sauce, pickled mushrooms, or mushroom seasonings. Such gourmet products can be sold at a high markup, provided you offer rich taste and high quality.
While many rural and urban farmers find mushroom cultivation easy and fascinating, many struggles with finding buyers for their produce. While the demand has grown exponentially, it is important to identify the right sales channel for your business. Once you identify where to sell your mushrooms, mushroom farming can be one of the most profitable businesses as a farmer.