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India: Entrepreneur finds out the magic of mushrooms

Goans are generally considered to be ‘susegaad’ in nature, thanks to their laid-back attitude in life. This tag, however, is slowly being erased by enterprising Goans, ready to slog, compete, and scale new heights. One such personality is Shivanand Volvoikar from Porvorim, who has established himself in Mapusa by venturing into a less-traversed path.

Taking the plunge into growing, promoting, marketing, helping the government, and, above all, conducting research speaks volumes about Shivanand, who has set the ball rolling in the mushroom business. For the lay consumer, mushrooms broadly fall into three categories - wild edible mushrooms, button mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms - nothing more. However, Shivanand has shown that the world of mushrooms is very vast. Continuously traveling all over India to study and introduce newer mushroom patterns is the hallmark of this researcher.

“Mushrooms have high nutritional value; and have significant marketing and research potential. Until now, this field has been untapped. Mushrooms can really occupy center stage for their nutritional value,” asserts Shivanand, whose present focus is growing oyster mushrooms organically in his laboratory in Mapusa.

For Shivanand, the turning point in his business came about three years ago when the Goa government’s mushroom program almost collapsed. The Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) was about to start a training course for people interested in mushroom cultivation, but their lab in Old Goa developed some problems, and all their spawn and mushroom cultures were compromised. “They were in a difficult situation as their training was about to start. We supplied them with six test tubes for culture and subculture, but those also went bad. We needed to identify the root cause of this problem. It was only after addressing other aspects like temperature, humidity, and related factors that we were able to successfully provide them with two test tubes for the program. The course was conducted, and I was also invited as a resource person,” says Shivanand proudly. He asserts that ATMA Project Director Kishore Bhave has always been supportive and enthusiastic about promoting mushroom education among youth and farmers. On realizing the potential of oyster mushrooms, Shivanand ventured into commercial production. This was in addition to his research and development work under the banner of Vana Shrubs Pvt Ltd.


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