The History of Mushroom Cultivation in Nepal

Standard Post with Image

Introduction

Mushroom production has a long and varied history in Nepal, which is strongly anchored in the country’s rich agricultural traditions. Mushrooms have played an important role in Nepal’s agricultural and economic environment. Nepal has a high diversity of mushrooms, however due to inadequate scientific research, only 1150 mushroom species have been identified. [2] Of these, 147 are said to be edible, 100 are poisonous, and 73 have medical properties. [3]. As Nepal continues to modernize its agricultural sector, mushroom cultivation is likely to play an increasingly important role in the nation’s development. Also, the history of mushroom cultivation in Nepal has significant role in developing agricultural aspects in Nepal.

 

Background

History of Mushroom Cultivation in Nepal

The Division of Plant Pathology, Department of Agriculture, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, established Mushroom Cultivation. Miss Bunu Devi Pandey, M.Sc. Botany, began the initial work under Mr. Moin Shah, Head of the Division, in 1974. In the beginning, the cultivation of white button mushroom was done on horse dung but it was not successful. Then Miss Pandey was sent for a training on mushroom cultivation to National Mushroom Research Training Centre, Solan, India.

In short, the history of mushroom cultivation has played a significant role in the further research and development of different varieties of mushrooms.

The History of White Button Mushroom in Nepal

Button Mushroom
White Button Mushroom

Miss Pandey brought the technology of mushroom cultivation and the spawn as well as culture of Agaricus bisporus, from Solan. She introduced Solan technology of white button mushroom in compost media at the laboratory condition in 1975. Thus, the technology of white button mushroom cultivation for Nepal was developed successfully.

Later in 1977-78, the technology of growing white button mushroom on synthetic compost of paddy straw was taken to the farmers’ houses. The spawn was prepared in wheat grains in the laboratory of the Division of Plant Pathology. Miss Pandey was again sent to Netherlands for further training on mushroom cultivation by the government.

Under the leadership of Dharmendra Maharjan and Suman Maharjan, White Button Mushroom was cultivated in Chitlang by short composting method after they completed their training in  Solan, India.

 

The History of Oyster Mushroom in Nepal

Oyster mushroom
Oyster mushroom

 

 

Oyster Mushroom cultivation was initiated during 1983-84 and later introduced to some villages of Phulchoki Mountain. Since villagers were dependent upon fire woods by cutting trees,  it was banned and people were advised to grow fruits. Therefore, Oyster mushroom cultivation was accepted by villagers who benefited during 1985-86.

The method of cultivation of oyster mushroom was simple and the mushroom could be produced within a short time. Therefore, mushroom farmers liked the cultivation and the technology spread like a wild fire.

The extension and expansion of mushroom cultivation (white button and oyster) continued in the country. Then the development and its promotion was continued in the governmental level.

 

The History of Reishi Mushroom in Nepal

The history of Reishi mushroom cultivation in Nepal took a transformative turn in 2019 when Akash Bade, a pioneer in the field, introduced sustainable commercial farming practices. Before this, Reishi mushrooms were being harvested in a non-sustainable manner, posing a threat to their natural habitats and long-term availability. Recognizing the need for a more sustainable approach, Bade began cultivating Reishi mushrooms using sawdust, a method that not only ensured environmental sustainability but also improved the quality and yield of the mushrooms. Under his leadership, the cultivation of Reishi mushrooms evolved, and the fungi were processed into various products such as Reishi mushroom powder and Dried Reishi mushrooms. This innovation not only preserved the delicate ecosystems where these mushrooms thrive but also provided a reliable supply of high-qu

ality Reishi mushrooms to meet growing market demands.

Know more in the video:

 

 

The History of Shiitake Mushroom in Nepal

In Nepal, the traditional method of cultivating shiitake mushrooms on wood logs proved inefficient, demanding significant labor and time. To address this issue, mushroom expert Akash Bade conducted research and, in 2020, introduced a groundbreaking solution: cultivating Shiitake Mushrooms on Sawdust. This innovative method, successfully implemented for the first time in Nepal, revolutionized mushroom farming by offering a more efficient and less labor-intensive alternative to the traditional wood log cultivation.

Know more in the video:

 

 

Contributions to Mushroom Cultivation in Nepal

There are significant experts and volunteers who have contributed to the development of mushroom cultivation and research in Nepal. They helped in the growth and the expansion of mushroom cultivation in Nepal, highlighting the pivotal roles played by government initiatives, research institutions, and entrepreneurial farmers.

Nepalese Experts

As mentioned above, Miss Bunu Devi Pandey and her team played one of the major role in introducing and starting mushroom cultivation in Nepal.

Bunu Devi Pandey - History of Mushroom Cultivation in Nepal
Miss Bunu Devi Pandey
Dr. Keshari Laxmi Manandhar - History Mushroom Cultivation in nepal
Dr. Keshari Laxmi Manandhar

 

Dr. Mahesh Kumar Adhikari

 

Dr. Keshari Laxmi Manandhar later held the responsibility of incharge of the mushroom unit which Miss Pandey had resigned after her visit to USA. At the same time, Nar Hari Khadka (Jr. Technical Assistant), Bhimsen Khadka, and other Fieldmen were working in the mushroom unit. Then Miss Chandra Laxmi Shrestha [M. Sc. Botany] joined the unit in 1979. Mr. Hari Ram Dangol [B. Sc. Biology] was the expert from the Division of Plant Pathology to help the farmers in project area. Dr. Mahesh Kumar Adhikari has a huge contribution in identifying and recording wild mushrooms in Nepal.

Mushroom Farmers

In 1978, After the transfer of mushroom technology which was first introduced by Bunu Devi Pandey, the farmers : Krishna Bahadur Shrestha from Baneshwor and Pawan Bir Pandey  from Maitidevi were the first ones to grow white button mushroom in their houses. They later trained Dharma Das Amatya, Nawaraj K.C. and Dharma Maharjan of Balambu. Later in 1980, Buddhi Bahadur Raut from Dadhikot, Tarkhagal, Bhaktapur also started to grow white button mushroom his house. [4] There were only five farmers in the first year but the number increased year after year and reached 40 by 1981.

Japanese Volunteers on Research Introduction and Production in Nepal

JICA researchers on history mushroom cultivation in Nepal

Mr. Terasaki was the first Japanese volunteer from JICA to work on mushrooms in 1976. He did some developmental work during his tenure of 2-year period.

Mr Naowaki Watanabe was the second volunteer from JICA for a period of 3 years from 1978-80. He worked on Shiitake mushroom cultivation on wood logs of Quercus trees.

The further volunteers were Mr. Kanagawa (1980-83), Ms. Mari Sakai (1992-94) and Dr. Kauo Watanabe (2008-10). They completed production and research on Oyster Mushroom, Shiitake Mushroom, and Reishi Mushroom.

 

Conclusion

Oyster Mushroom Cultivation Training

Mushroom Cultivation developed slowly in Nepal from 1970s. The main objective was to uplift the farmers’ living standard by introducing high value crop in their life. At present, there are organizations including Mushroom Seed Nepal & Research Center that work actively in cultivation and research on various mushrooms like Oyster Mushroom, Button Mushroom, Shiitake Mushroom, Reishi Mushroom and Magic Mushroom. While the future prospects of mushroom cultivation is seen significant and promised, such organizations can lead to the further development, cultivation and research to uplift the scopes of agriculture in Nepal.

 

Since 2020, various of research on mushrooms are being done with the active participation of senior mushroom scientist Dr. Jay Kant Raut, and collaboration of Mushroom Seed Nepal and Research Center and Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). For the first time in Nepal, after the collection of native oyster mushrooms from Phulchowki, the spore culture, tissue culture and cultivation are done in the lab of Mushroom Seed Nepal and Research Center.

 

References

Source of Information : Hand Book of Mushroom Cultivation in Nepal by Dr. Keshari Laxmi Manandhar

[1] Mushroom Cultivation – Book by D.P Tripathi
[3] Adhikari M. K. (2014) Mushrooms of Nepal. (Eds by G.Durrieu, & H. V. T. Cotter) Published by KS Adhikari,Kathmandu, Nepal. p. 340.
[4] Interview with Mushroom Experts.

 

 

© Mushroom Seed Nepal & Research Center, All rights reserved.