Posted September 2000
Feasibility, sustainability, replicability
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
More than 70 percent of the trainees established their mushroom house successfully and now show profitability. They have a regular supplemental income generated through mushroom cultivation. Most trainees wish to continue cultivating 1 000 - 2 000 bags of mushrooms which generates an average of 4 - 8 kg per day. Based on an average sales price of 25 Baht per kg, this means an income of 100 - 200 Baht per day or approximately 65 - 130 Baht per day per one thousand bags depending on price and sales strategy. Based on the assumption the minimum survival cost per person in the Northeastern part of Thailand is 34 Baht per day, one thousand bags can sustain approximately two people.
To this date, the majority of trainees receive regular income with their mushroom farm. For many of them, this is the first time they can enjoy regular income. Since work in the rice fields occurs only twice a year, their mushroom production ensures income between sowing and harvesting rice seasons. Furthermore, during the rainy season, the rice and wild mushrooms season, trainees can further eat their produced mushrooms, which is an indirect income. They can also sell fresh and processed mushrooms to other workers in the fields who have no time to go and collect wild mushrooms. This ensures a 12 months a year income.
Some trainees have more than doubled their production. The yield is directly related to the quality of maintenance and care given to mushrooms and their environment. Those mushroom houses that are very neatly kept generally have much higher yield compared to the ones where mushrooms are left to grow by themselves.
Feasibility and sustainability are highly dependent on market opportunity. One trainee encountered difficulties when a women's group received a grant from local government to set-up a mushroom farm. Because they did not have to pay for anything, they cut sales prices for mushrooms breaking the local market. Luckily for the trainee, the group cannot generate sufficient income and is soon to close down.
FAO is in the process of creating a monitoring and evaluation system as a tool to better understand reasons for success and to ensure future feasibility and sustainability. Jointly, special manuals for trainers and trainees are under preparation and will clearly describe special methodologies and procedures that were used in the project. These tools will be necessary to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project. They will be used within the institutional framework and for all private mushroom cultivation enterprises.
A first replication of the center is planned by the Department of Public Welfare in Nong Khai, a border province to Lao PDR. This new center is expected to emulate the center in Ubon Ratchathani. Other training centers are expected to replicate the program around Thailand. FAO is also planning to replicate the project in neighboring countries either as local or regional projects. Small mushroom enterprises are expanding rapidly around Thailand. Not only is the training center offering training but also some trainees have already started training people and replicating their success in mushroom cultivation within their community.