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Mushroom sector in Pakistan

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This post is also available in: English Russian

Author: Irfan Hameed
Contributed by : Adeel Hakim & Aqsa Arshad
Contact information: :+923057061837
irfanhameed752@gmail.com

Mushroom locally known as “Khumbi”, in Pakistan, this is among the emerging agricultural business. Cultivation of mushroom in Pakistan is in its preliminary stage and its pace of development is slow due to inadequate private and public segment support because it involves a high infrastructure. According to the statistics the annual mushroom imports of Pakistan values $ 1.54 million in 2022 with zero exports of mushroom in 2022. While in the year 2021 total imports of mushroom were $1.38 million. Mushroom sales were hiked about 11.5% from 2003 to 2021 (trend economy). These statistics shows that Mushroom supply in Pakistan depends from import. A  small portion of total market demand is produced locally in the form of fresh mushrooms rest of the demand is fulfilled by importing canned mushroom from China with a share of 99% (1.54 million US$) (https://trendeconomy.com/data/h2/Pakistan/2003

Half a decade ago there were only small or cottage farming of mushroom was practiced in northern parts of the country, these farms were activated during winter months. They were small scale or home-based farmers mostly growing oyster and some exotic mushroom as they are easy to handle.

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Mushroom farming has great potential due to high demand in local market. About two decades ago only few wild species were consumed by rural folk. At present times the demand of mushroom both the fresh and canned are increased enormously as people are diverting towards vegetable proteins and the versatility of cuisine is shifting from local to global. In recent times the attraction towards Italian cuisine where its consumption is more in pizza restaurants and soup shops then fresh market. Awareness regarding mushrooms has experienced a notable rise within the borders of Pakistan over the course of the past twenty years  This increase in awareness has led to the integration of mushroom cultivation as a component of household agricultural practices, with a number of farmers also engaging in the commercial production of mushrooms. Noteworthy is the involvement of the National Logistic Cell in Pakistan, which has taken proactive measures to spearhead the cultivation of mushrooms in regions such as Islamabad and Swat, achieving an annual production capacity of 48 tons. Few of research centres in Pakistan are working to examine the production rate of mushrooms and checking their yield potential. For example, National Agricultural  Research Centre Islamabad (NARC), Agriculture Research Station Mingora Swat Khyber Puhtoonkhwa (KPK) Pakistan, AUST – Abbottabad University of Science & Technology.

As far the commercial scale farming is concerned the first two large commercial farm NLC and Asjad mushroom were developed in Rawalpindi in 1990. In the existing scenario a number of modern or commercial farms are producing mushroom, SunGold farm is the biggest farm in the country with its own spawn production lab and equipped with modern facilities. They have an annual production capacity of 2000-2500 tons, but they are producing 3-4 tons daily (1500 tons annually). Furthermore, “Home Grown’’ in Multan is operational with annual production of 90 tons (250 kg daily production), Margalla Mushroom in Islamabad one of the oldest operational farm in mushroom business have an annual production of 50 tons and Clean Green in Karachi annually produces 50 ton of mushroom, all these farms are commercially producing white button mushroom. Along with these farm’s several seasonal farms in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Faisalabad are also contributing to the countries mushroom production. Qarshi industries is establishing its Oyster mushroom farm (which on its initial stages) in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) where climatic conditions are suitable for mushroom growing.

Out of the four provinces of the country three provinces Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan have harsh weather conditions. All these farms are located in plane areas where the weather conditions are extremely hot and dry except Margalla Mushroom. All these farms are owned by Industrialists with in the premises of preexisting industries where they have all the power and electricity facilities. Furthermore, Argo waste for substrate preparation is cheap and easily available in these provinces because they are agricultural areas.

The government and concerned institutions have started focusing on mushroom industry, several promising steps are taken by the government. Firstly, they are discouragingthe import of mushroom by enhancing the import duties and tax on import of mushroom. Moreover, gov started facilitating the local growers by reducing the taxes, subsidizing farmers on various machineries and providing credits for starting the business. Furthermore, scientific organizations like National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) and different universities like University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) is continuously arranging trainings and seminars on the local and national levelsfor example Prime Minister’s Hunarmand Pakistan Program by National Vocational and Technical Training Commission. Provincial government of (KPK) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,is willingly facilitating the mushroom farmers every year they are conducting trainings and also collaborating with farmers to equip them with right techniques and skills. One of the pioneer organization working for the Uplift of this business in Pakistan is Zarai Taraqiati Bank limited. They are providing loans and consultancies to the farmers for developing the farms.

One of the problems of mushroom business the farmers involved in conventional farming have no idea about mushroom cultivation they thought that it is cultivated in land like other crops. Now in some northern areas of Pakistan people know about it because of some training workshops held by government institutes but in southern area people doesn’t have knowledge about mushrooms. Previous problems lead to its marketing, in Pakistan its audience is in elite class living areas or big hyper marts. Rest of the community doesn’t purchase and consume it due to high price of mushroom.

Mushroom cultivation is done under controlled climatic conditions so it required a high infrastructure and resources like electricity, water and steam. For the construction of mushroom farms, there is no company providing equipment and construction according to international standards. Only one or two local companies are working in this sector, for starting a mushroom business one has to import all the facilitating equipment. All these factors increase the initial establishment cost and which finally increases the production cost. As seed is the main component of any crop in this case spawn also play a key role in the production, growth and yield of mushroom. Not a single global spawn providing company is working in the country, some local spawn vendors working on local level but their quality is uncertain and sometimes miserable, also they are unable to fulfil large orders. So, the farm owner has to import inoculum from foreign countries which involves certain complex legalities of quarantine and government departments, all these processes elevate the overall cost which directly impact the final cost.

If we summarize the mushroom business in Pakistan, this sector needs a serious attention to reduce the initial cost and farmer friendly policies. The entry of big facilitating companies in local market who help the farmers in term of equipment’s and spawn can be supportive for the local farmers.

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