Oyster mushrooms, so called that for their odd resemblance in sight, taste, and smell to the seafood, and other specialty mushrooms have been increasingly in demand. In Central Guatemala, Asociación Visión Maya, or the Maya Vision Association has been successfully producing these mushrooms for ten years, but asked Farmer-to-Farmer to help them develop their skills and create recommendations for better practices.
|Participants testing, preparing, and inoculating spawn|
Without the proper supplies, Guatemala’s mushroom farmers have been industrious and inventive in their efforts- for example, without petri dishes readily available, they use old baby food jars instead. Maya Vision Association farmers have been growing oyster mushrooms fairly successfully for the past ten years; however, their production has been hindered by the lack of technical skills and knowledge necessary to maintain appropriate growing conditions, as well as the undependable availability of high-quality mushroom spawn (the material used to carry the vegetative part of the fungus, called the mycelium, so that the mushroom can be transported and stored). Drs. Cotter and Hameed set up experiments to test various ways to improve yields, and taught what methods and what facilities are necessary in order to produce spawn. They also visited the growers' production houses in order to give feedback for general improvements and the reduction of losses due to contamination and poor environmental conditions. Over the course of the week, their participants successfully prepared and inoculated spawn in three different varieties, enough to start their own strain library, which will remove their dependence on external sources of spawn.
|Training participant with his mushrooms|