"The mushrooms growing in Viet Nam are still found scattered and at the small scale of household or farm production," Linh said.
The country’s total output of both edible and medicinal mushrooms only reaches 250,000 tonnes, with an export turnover of US$60 million per year.
Meanwhile, with the abundance of mushroom growing materials, including straws, logs and enriched sawdust, which can reach 40 million tonnes per year, Viet Nam has a great potential for the development of the mushroom industry.
Linh said if only 10 – 15 per cent of the available mushroom growing materials were used up, about 1 million tonnes of mushrooms still would be produced, with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of organic fertilisers.
The large amount of straw burned after harvests every year was a waste of materials and also causes pollution, he added.
Scientists agree on the necessity of developing mushroom cultivation in Viet Nam. It not only helps produce clean food, create jobs, reduce poverty but also helps reduce environmental pollution.
According to Linh, growing mushrooms should be an affordable investment for farmers. With an investment of VND20 million (US$967) and 100 square metres of farming land, a farmer can earn about VND1.5 – 2 million ($73-98) per month on average.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, some kinds of mushrooms can be harvested after only two weeks, which brings high economic benefits.
Researches of edible and medicinal mushrooms started dozens of years ago to select spawns, which can be adapted to the climate conditions of Viet Nam, with high yield and quality, said Linh.
In addition, advanced techniques related to breeding, processing and preservation of mushrooms has helped increase mushroom productivity from 1.5 to three times what it was ten years ago.
The Biotechnology Centre was one of the pioneer centres for conducting research on new mushroom spawns, Linh added. The centre has been producing mushroom spawns of about 300 tonnes per year
To date, the technology of growing and processing mushrooms has been transferred to more than 40 provinces throughout the country, he added.
Mushrooms are reportedly grown in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and the southern provinces, including Dong Thap, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh and Can Tho City.
However, a lack of research centres with poor technologies for mushroom processing and preservation cause a hindrance to growth, according to Linh.
In addition, Vietnamese mushrooms have not been recognised in the world market, which required the Government’s support to boost the development of mushroom cultivation, he added.
Mushroom cultivation has been industrialised and become an important economic sector in some of Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. — VNS