Posted September 2000
Annex 1: Layout of mushroom cultivation center
Annex 2: Buildings and equipment
Annex 3: Main steps in mushroom cultivation
Annex 4: Contributors to the project's success
Mushrooms are part of the daily menu for people of Thailand. Most people love mushrooms; to collect them; to seek wild mushrooms; people love to eat mushrooms. Mushrooms can be cultivated on a small and larger scale to allow personal consumption or commercial enterprise. This can serve as supplemental or major source of income, depending on the size of the farming activity and the number of mushroom houses. People with physical disabilities are fully capable of accomplishing all required tasks necessary in mushroom cultivation, although sometimes some modifications in techniques, handling, tools and equipment may be required. Furthermore, mushrooms grow under the shade thus reducing physical exertion associated with open cultivation such as rice and small fruits. It can also be performed by mentally disabled people since it requires repetitive activities that can easily be learned. Research and development can be further included for those people capable of conducting research.
Mushroom cultivation offers a wide range of activities that can be suited for people with various needs, interest and capabilities.
Mushroom cultivation can be started at a very low cost. In Ubon Ratchathani, a mushroom house capable of holding 1 000 mushroom bags can be built for between 500 Baht and 2 000 Baht depending on the creativity of the constructor in using readily available and appropriate material.
Mushrooms can be produced within 2 - 4 months and can be sold fresh on the local market. Spawns or seeds and spawn bags can be bought at a reasonably low cost thus offering an acceptable profit margin. Mushrooms being highly perishable, they need to be sold rapidly or can be processed into various types of food as to give it an added value.
Market opportunity is essential and is verified through constancy in demand for mushrooms and stability in price over the years. For example, the most common and easy to grow varieties of mushrooms in Ubon Ratchathani are Pleurotus (Oyster mushrooms), and Volvariella (Straw mushrooms); they are sold between 20 - 30 and 30 - 60 Baht per kg respectively, depending on the season.
Mushrooms are just one of the many products that can be used in enterprise development for people with disabilities. Other products can be introduced later using the same approach and methodology as to avoid market saturation.