By Mercy Omoike
Lagos – A mushroom farmer, Mr Sunday Irihogbe, has blamed the unpopularity of mushrooms among Nigerians to their ignorance of its benefits.
Irihogbe made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Nutritionists believe that mushrooms are packed with nutritional value, low in calories and a good source of fibre and protein.
They provide many nutrients including B vitamins, selenium, potassium, copper and Vitamin D when exposed to sun.
The farmer highlighted the benefits of mushrooms as he encouraged Nigerians to consume them as alternative source of protein.
“We have quite a lot of mushroom farmers in the country but we really have poor sales of mushroom owing to the current state of the economy.
“The benefits of eating mushrooms are numerous. It is a major source of protein, it helps in the reduction of high blood pressure and it also makes the skin healthier.
“It is said that the consumption of mushrooms helps in boosting fertility in men and women with fertility issues.
“Mushroom farming is a very lucrative business; it is just that the awareness that will promote the business is not available.
“We want Nigerians to know that not all mushrooms are poisonous; we have more of the edible species than the poisonous ones,” he told NAN.
Irihogbe also noted major challenges faced by local mushroom farmers as he called for support and patronage to boost mushroom trade in the country.
“It is not really easy to plant mushrooms; it takes closes to six months to cultivate a mushroom plantation to full maturity.
“Most mushroom farmers cultivate the produce together in a group, the plantation is done like a communal farm.’’
Irihogbe said that the major problem faced in the mushroom business was the lack of awareness by Nigerians on the potential of the plant.
“ Most people do not know the benefits of eating mushrooms.
“The major help we need to boost the mushroom farm business is the creation of awareness for the produce.
“We also need funds in terms of loans and grants to cultivate mushrooms in a large scale.
“Presently, we do manual cultivation and manual irrigation of the farm,’’ Irohogbe said.