Short History of Mushroom Cultivation in Nepal

Sanjeev Poudel & Aastha Bajracharya

Mushroom cultivation is relatively new in Nepal. The research for mushroom cultivation began in 1974 under Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC). Cultivation of white button mushroom in 1977 was first mushroom farming done by farmers. Plant pathology division in NARC began distribution of spawn. Oyster mushroom was introduced to farmers in 1984. In the beginning a handful of farmers started this farming in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu district. After successful production of oyster mushroom, the number of farmers increased to 50. At present there are about 5000-6000 mushroom farmers in Kathmandu alone. The average production is about 8000- 10000 kilograms per day. Pokhara and Chitwan are other major mushroom producers. Other districts also produce these two species but in very less amount, barely enough to meet local demand.

The research for other species has also begun lately. Research for Shiitake and Ganoderma is being done from 2001, by NARC as well as a private organization, Centre for Agriculture Technology (CAT) under one of the pioneer scientist in mushroom, Dr Keshari L Manandhar. In few areas in and around Kathmandu, Shiitake is being produced successfully. Other than these, straw mushroom farming was started in Terai region.

Initially, spawn distribution was done by NARC only. But now, spawn are being produced by private companies as well. Currently there are 9-10 spawn distributing private organizations in Kathmandu.

Though in Pokhara too this was tried, the spawn produced there was not satisfactory. Hence, almost all spawn is distributed from Kathmandu.

Mushroom farming started in small scale among small farmers. There had been few big producers, such as Snow white mushroom, Himalayan Mushroom. They had capacity to produce 5000 kg per day. But these companies failed to make profit due to high cost of production and eventually closed down. At present, mushroom producers are mostly small farmers, producing 300-500 kg per day. They have been able to meet demand thus far.