Mushroom grower earns sustainable income

Mr Suansanam Lathsabanthao is a model family in Xaythany district, earning a sustainable income from growing mushrooms.

He has grown mushrooms since 1986 after he finished a training course on organic plant cultivation, supported by the Vientiane Agriculture and Forestry Department in cooperation with a foreign aid project.

Mr Suansanam Lathsabanthao displays his mushrooms at his farm.

During the course, he had the opportunity to visit a model mushroom farm, grown and supported by g the project. The lesson inspired his dream of one day owning his own mushroom farm.

After studying mushroom cultivation, he brought his skills back home and began pursuing that dream.

U pon finishing the training course, he continued to grow mushrooms. He noticed that the mushrooms he grew were popular among customers. To meet his customers’ needs, he increased the quantity of mushrooms he grew every month.

Throughout 30 years of success in mushroom cultivation, he has built a model sustainable business in Xaythany district.

He has five sheds where he grows the mushrooms. Every day, he harvests 15-40kg from 22,000 seeding bags of mushrooms. Some 17,000 of those are hedkhonkhao and the rest are of the hednangfa variety.

Mushrooms from the farm are directly sent to the market in Somsavanh village, where he lives. Sometimes, vendors from organic markets in Vientiane come to the farm to buy his mushrooms.

The process of mushroom cultivation begins by placing mushroom spores into bags. However, this step requires additional labour so he employs people in the village to work on the farm. If all of the steps in the cultivation process are successful, the mushrooms will be ready for picking every day. This provides the family with an income from six months to one year.

Mr Suansanam now has a sustainable income. The money that he has earned has paid for each of his three children to obtain a bachelor’s degree, enabling them to get permanent jobs.

He values diligent work, so there is never any uncertainty as to whether his family will have a sustainable source of income. Every morning, he goes to pick mushrooms while vendors wait to buy them.

Mr Suansanam said mushroom consumption has increased in recent years after studies have shown mushrooms are good for various health reasons. These benefits include reducing high cholesterol levels, reducing the chance of different cancers and helping to mitigate diabetes. Regular consumption of mushrooms also can help with weight loss and strengthening the immune system.

There are approximately 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi in the world, but scientists are only familiar with around 10 percent. Only around 100 species are studied for their potential health benefits and medicinal applications.

Source: Vientiane Times. Date: December 3 2016