Rivers State is blessed with human and abundant natural resources and yet is included as one of the states that have high rate of unemployment.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics in 2017, about 41.82 percent are unemployed. This means that for every 10 persons, four are without a job. Although this figure was refuted by the Rivers State Government, whether this figure is true or not, the truth still remains that Rivers youths and indeed Nigerian youths seek for white collar jobs where there is none.
Youths are not interested in farming as some of them cluster at newspaper stands arguing politics and sports. There is no country all over the world that can survive without agriculture. With agriculture GDP increases jobs are created and poverty reduced. Interestingly, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has approved free loans for young entrepreneurs and traders to access. What this means is that wealth will be created and agricultural produce boosted in the state, if agriculture is the focus.
My first publication of 7th December, 2018 emphasised on snail farming, which can be achieved with low capital, just as it is with mushroom farming, which we shall consider as a source of creating wealth.
Mushroom Farming: Many people today, especially youths may not know the importance of mushroom and its nutritional value. Mushroom can be produced with a small piece of land in your backyard as with snail. With half plot of land you can start.
How to grow edible Mushrooms:
Mushroom farming is one of the businesses that hold high prospect but never gain ground in Nigeria. Not all mushrooms are edible. The first step is to identity the species that are good for consumption.
Chanterelles: This specie is rich in vitamins A, D, and contains a high amount of potassium. This mushroom can be grown anywhere in Nigeria.
Oysters: This mushroom is known to have anti-oxidants and anti-bacterial effects. It can also help in reducing the level of cholesterol in the body.
Morals (Morchella Esculenta): This type of mushroom is composed of vitamins C and antioxidants, it protects the body from toxic materials and the liver.
After choosing the species you want to grow, you can then purchase the spawn of the particular variety of mushroom you wish to grow.
It could be sawdust, grains or any substance that can hold the strain of mushroom until it is ready to be cultivated. Mushroom can be grown on sawdust or straw or cultivated on a long wood. In growing your mushrooms on sawdust, you must note the following: 1. Ensuring the sawdust or straw is free from micro-organisms or anything that may disturb the growth of the mushroom.
2. Spread your medium into a container that can provide enough room for proper growth of the mushroom.
3. Mix the mushroom spawn with the medium inside the container. 4. The mushroom spawn needs a certain amount of heat to enable its roots settle in the medium. Therefore, you must heat the container with the mushroom spawn and the medium or place it in direct sunlight for a while.
5. After heating the medium and the spawn, the next thing is to put the mixture in a dark room. It could be a cabinet or drawer, it must be a darkened environment where the temperature is not too high. After that you must leave the mixture in the drawer or cabinet for about three to four weeks for it to grow.
In case of logs, you must make sure the woods are safe for the growth of your mushroom. Cut holes into the woods and introduce the mushroom spawn into the holes in the log woods. Put the logs under a shade, with continuous spraying of water until the mushroom starts to develop. Whichever medium you decide to use in cultivating your mushroom, you must make sure you put all the measures in place. Be sure to have a bountiful of harvest of mushroom at the end of the day.
Health Benefits of Mushroom
Apart from being delicious and a good source of protein, edible mushrooms have a lot of health benefits that Nigerians would be wise to take advantage of.
1. The oyster mushroom has been touted to provide relief to HIV patients. It is currently being studied as a possible cure for the virus.
2. The button mushroom is used in weight loss and has been proven to help in reduction and control.
3.The shitake mushroom is said to help in fighting bacteria and cancerous tumors.
4. Mushrooms are a good source of proteins for diabetic patients due to low sugar content and are made of about ninety percent water which is good for a healthy digestive system. Some mushroom farmers specialise in the growth of medicinal ones for the prevention and treatment of some illness such as cancer, tumours, hypertension, wounds and high blood pressure.
Results show that mushrooms cultivation is relevant to four sectors of the Nigerian economy, food, pharmaceutical, agriculture and environment.
Igbe writes from Port Harcourt.
Sebastian Emeka Igbe