One of the rooms in his apartment in a high-rise building in the heart of the town is named ‘mushroom lab’ for ensuring restricted entry to it where he is scrupulously tending to the mushrooms being grown in polythene bags hanging from steel frames fixed to the ceiling. The 400-square feet room has been converted into a protected area to shelter the mushroom buds from any kind of pest attacks.
Akbar Quraishi has taken up mushroom cultivation both as a business endeavour and as a model initiative that can be emulated by residents interested in making extra bucks, provided they have extra space in their flats for the venture. Mr. Quraishi, who earlier worked in oil companies in West Asia and West Africa, has got interested in mushroom cultivation through a friend. “The idea of cultivating mushroom in an urban apartment unit never crossed my mind until I got a chance to be associated with the mushroom farming of my friend,” says Mr. Quraishi. It is with his friend’s encouragement that he translated the idea into a reality.
At present he is cultivating White oyster mushroom (pleurotus) in 300 plastic bags (buds) containing coco peat as medium and spawns. He is also planning to add 100 more buds. If the temperature and other condition are ideal, each bud will produce two kilograms of mushroom over a period of two months. After pinning (or fruiting), mushrooms can be harvested in four days.
A major concern is seasonal temperature variations that can affect mushroom growth cycles. In the summer season, oyster mushrooms spawns will be replaced by milky mushroom spawns, he says.
Though there is growing demand for mushrooms, the supply falls short of the demand, he observes. Though a wholesale buyer has agreed to procure the yield, he is willing to sell it to local residents as a promotion of his new venture, he informs
Mr. Quraishi, who looks at mushroom cultivation as an alternative livelihood, plans to promote it by offering the know-how. “I want to demonstrate that mushroom cultivation can be done in high-rise apartments,” he says.
Quraishi plans to promote mushroom cultivation as an alternative livelihood.