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Dr. Nazimi Açıkgöz; Mushroom Economy

Although fungi are among vegetables in terms of our food, they are not in the animal or plant kingdom. They are a primitive group of living organisms that do not have organs such as true roots, stems, leaves and flowers and lack chlorophyll, that is, they cannot photosynthesise.

These naturally growing organisms can be found all over the world. Consumption, which was made by collecting from nature for a long time, has gained momentum after being cultivated. In Europe, annual consumption data reaches 10 kg/year/man, while in Türkiye this figure is 0.6 kg.

World mushroom production is estimated to soar by 7% every year. Due to its low fat and cholesterol content, immune supporting fibre and digestive enzymes, it has started to be used in dietary supplements. It should be expected that mushroom will take more place in our table in the future with its powders, dried service, pickled, canned, sauces and soups. Based on the rich flavour of truffles, their current price, and the expectation that an increasing vegan population will consume truffles instead of meat, it should be considered that the truffle market will grow in a shorter time than expected. It is estimated that truffle alone will create a trade volume of 6 billion dollars in the world within five to ten years.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has started to implement programmes to ramp up the income levels of our farmers by increasing their knowledge and skills and to raise the product hike, product quality and standard in production for mushroom cultivation, the production of which has soared rapidly due to the increase in consumer awareness in our country in recent years. Provincial Directorates organise trainings in cooperation with Public Education Units and in line with the demands. In addition, 50% grant support is given to mushroom enterprises within modern fixed investments.

Although mushroom is a nutrient known since ancient times, it is known that it was first cultivated as a cultural plant in the 16th century. The spike in the consumption of mushroom, which started to be produced in our country in the 1960s, has been effective in the spread of family business management that started in Korkuteli district of Antalya province in the 1970s and spread almost all over the country. The fact that it has taken its place in chain market shelves as well as markets and greengrocers is another indication that mushroom consumption will increase. The fact that mushroom production material (mycelia – spores transformed into mushroom seeds), which is the first problem for family business, is marketed even by online sales companies and can be sold even in pesticide dealers will affect the increase in production.

Kuzugöbeği-Höbelen

It is known that 58% of the 20 million tonnes of mushrooms produced in the world in 2022 are culture, 18% are shiitake and 14% are oyster mushrooms. The growing environments of these three species are very different. Oyster mushroom is grown in straw, shiitake in wood (and sawdust) and cultivated mushroom in special compost environment. Compost has developed as a commercial sub-sector in the mushroom sector.
In our country, many unique mushroom varieties are known in some regions collected from nature. Although their names vary locally, Kanlıca, Kuzugöbeği-Höbelen, Emperor-Gelincik, Çörek-Pestik, Deer-Tirmit, Deer Milk, Oyster-Beech, Borazan, Kıvırcık, Honey, Cowhide, Şitake-Black Forest, Beefsteak, Sulphur, Cincile mushrooms stand out. Keme or Dolaman mushrooms are also found in our geography. The fact that these mushrooms are very similar in shape to truffles, which are known to be very expensive in the world market, causes misconceptions. While truffles require symbiosis with microorganisms in woody environments, Dolaman mushrooms have symbiosis with microorganisms in herbaceous environments. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry continues to work on the cultivation of truffles and increasing their production in our country.

Mushroom production is a labour intensive business. For this reason, the need for automation in production in medium enterprises has come to the fore especially in western countries. Control systems, monitoring of growth, collection, disinfection, classification, packaging-packaging, etc., which require routine human labour, were carried out by robots with cameras. Such enterprises established in the USA in 2020 reduced costs, thus new technology was introduced in mushroom production. Naturally, such breakthroughs will progress further and especially flavoured morel by-products will be able to reach wider markets: White or white morel flavoured olive oil, white morel hot sauce, truffle oil, etc…

By Emeritus Professor Dr. Nazimi Açıkgöz…

About İsmail Uğural

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