For those with a burning desire to start a business, but lacking the funds, a mushroom business might be perfect for you. The startup expenses for a mushroom farm are minimal compared to many other businesses. If done on a small scale, it could even be done as a part-time job.
Learning the How-to of Mushrooms
Before you can start your mushroom farm, get the knowledge on how to grow mushrooms. Several Institutions as well as individual experts have courses on growing these fungi. For instance, IIHR (Indian Institute of Horticultural Research), Bangalore offers a week-long course every few months. If you don’t have the time or money to take a course, many books and online resources (Mykopoint included) about growing mushrooms are readily available.
Preparing a Growing Space
Mushroom cultivation does not require a huge investment in space or infrastructure. 500 square feet is enough to grow about 5 tons of mushrooms annually. You’ll need a space where you can manage the temperature, humidity and light. You may already have such a space in your home or could set up temporary structure in your garden. If you have the space but are unsure about maintaining the growing conditions, consider investing in a cheap cooler or humidifier.
Getting the Materials
The main costs with running a mushroom farm are the growing substrate,, pasteurization equipment, and labor. Hygiene and cleanliness are one of the main factors determining the success of a mushroom business because pests and contamination will be the greatest enemies of your crop. Pasteurized straw is usually the substrate of choice but go with what is available cheaply and abundantly. There are various commercial producers of mushroom spawn as well as government institutions that provide spawn at a subsidized rate.
Because the initial investment for starting this type of business is quite low, it shouldn’t be too difficult to finance. Consider taking out a small loan or starting the business part time while working a full-time job. You have the advantage that you can adjust the scale of the business to match your available funds. It’s always a good idea to start small, gain experience and only then when you have confidence, to jump right into the business.
Marketing your Mushrooms
Growing oyster mushrooms takes just about 5 weeks from beginning to harvest time. Milky Mushrooms take 6 weeks while Paddy Straw Mushrooms only take 1.5 weeks. Harvest and sell them as quickly as possible so that they have the maximum shelf life. The downfall of many Mushrooms businesses have been that they could not produce a steady supply of mushrooms to maintain the attention and confidence of their consumers. You could sell them directly to local restaurants, grocery stores and supermarkets. Oyster mushrooms sell for between Rs. 200 a Kg wholesale. So if your 500-foot space produces 5 tons of mushrooms, and you’re able to sell them at Rs. 200 a Kg, you could gross Rs. 10,00,000 a year.