Twenty-five persons are now equipped with the expertise to cultivate their own crop of white oyster mushrooms following a five-day workshop on the cultivation of edible mushroom and preparation of vermicomposting.
The exercise hosted by the University of Guyana’s Berbice Campus (UGBC), Johns Science Centre concluded on Saturday, October 20.
According to a DPI release, Director of UGBC, Professor Gomathinayagam Subramanian explained that the aim of the workshop was to minimise the use of inorganic fertilisers by promoting the use of vermicomposting and at the same time encourage and highlight some of the health benefits of mushrooms while clearing up some common misconceptions and misinformation on same.
In a bid to make the environment eco-friendlier the John’s Science Centre, through funding from private stakeholders, shared with the participants how to make vermicompost while showing the economics and other benefits of cultivating the mushrooms.
Vermicompost is an end product of organic waste that was processed by earthworms. The compost which is rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (NPK) is used instead of chemical fertilisers and enhances plant growth, disease suppression, increase porosity and microbial activity in soil and improves water retention and aeration.
More importantly, the vermicompost is relatively inexpensive.
The workshop explained in detail the cultivation methods of the White Oyster Mushrooms; which is a super mushroom with numerous health benefits and a better alternative to meat, especially for vegetarians.
Professor Subramanian explained that this particular mushroom, which is widely available in Guyana, is high in protein and fibre, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, folic acid, a wide range of vitamins and at the same time low in calories, gluten-free, sodium and cholesterol free.
“It is very nutritious, so, my intention is to make persons more aware of the benefits. At the end of the day, we preserve our nation in terms of being pollution free and encourage more use of the mushroom as a meat substitute. It has 10-15 percent more nutritious value than meats such as beef, mutton, duck, chicken and fish,” the professor explained.
He also encouraged the participants to share the knowledge gained in their respective communities and also encouraged farmers to get involved as the demand for the mushroom is growing.
Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith indicated his intention to replicate the workshop which he deemed “very successful” and important to the development of the agriculture sector in Guyana, especially in the areas of value-added products, in the non-traditional sector.
“The success of the workshop is further testimony to the value of any University beyond offering degrees. Sharing of knowledge does not require only a degree, short programmes, workshops, symposiums are always enabling. That the replication of knowledge facilitated by the University either at Turkeyen or Berbice is something that we take seriously…All of these opportunities makes for the moment where we find ourselves at the University an exciting one. Exciting not only because we are only doing what we have always done. We are doing something different” Professor Griffith said in his remarks.
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman David Armogan reiterated his calls for diversification in the agriculture sector. “The need to diversify our agriculture base and to be able to add value to our agriculture products is the way to go in the present circumstances.”
At the conclusion of the closing ceremony, the participants and invitees sampled the cooked mushrooms which were prepared in form of a curry. The feedback was enthusiastic and many indicated their intention to add the new delicacy to their meal plan.