Mushroom, otherwise an unorthodox dish for average Bangladeshi food connoisseurs, gained much popularities these days as a food item and essential ingredient for many gourmet recipes. Thanks to positive media campaign over the years in building awareness among the consumers about mushroom – rich in nutrients.
Unlike many other parts of the country, many enterprising youths in Bogra, came forward and showed much interest in mushroom cultivation, production of mushroom-made food items and marketing of the same.
Media – particularly the ones who have been exposed to business journalism trainings and interactive sessions with business people in recent years – had all through a pioneer role in promoting the causes of homegrown mushroom and its marketing in Bogra.
Result is the growth of a Tk 60 lakh worth market for mushrooms in Bogra today. The name of Rubayat Nurul Hasan Lavlu, proprietor of North Bengal Mushroom Development Centre, has become almost synonymous with the promotion of mushroom products in Bogra. That is why he is known to the people of Bogra as ‘Mushroom Lavlu’. His success led way for many others to pursue lucks in mushroom trade. Local dailies of Bogra and several national dailies published reports on the food value of mushrooms. This encouraged Bogra people to include mushrooms in their diet, acknowledges successful entrepreneur Lavlu.
Speaking about his experience in mushroom cultivation in Bogra, Lavlu said, “I have trained and inspired at least 300 youths of Bogra region in mushroom cultivation from 2006 to 2008. But as improved varieties of seeds are not available and as there is no training in preservation system of mushrooms and there are lacks in infrastructure, many trained youths could not carry it forward.”
Trained youths, who did not find much luck in cultivating quality mushroom due to dearth of good seeds, however, got success in marketing mushrooms after sourcing those from Dhaka and also from abroad. Some of them are still engaged in cultivation and selling those in the neighborhoods as vegetables.
Mushroom farmer Selina Begum of Fulbaria area in the city said, “We locals have been unable to make headway. But the demand for foreign mushroom continues to increase. Our food habits are changing because of the campaign by the media, mushrooms will surely become more popular. Then we’ll have to meet the increased local demand with homegrown mushrooms that we produce.”
They now consider media can also highlight the issue of setting up a Mushroom Centre in Bogra under government initiative. North Bengal Mushroom Development Centre’s Rubayat Nurul Hasan Lavlu and City Mushroom Development Project’s Shamim Siddiqi said, they had heard about the government’s eagerness to establish such a centre.
They think such a centre should be able to solve the problem of not getting good seeds for mushroom cultivation and eventually lead the way of replacing the imported mushrooms with the homegrown ones.
As the imported ones are better in quality now because of better preservation mechanism, the demand for packaged mushrooms are high in the local market.
Ninety per cent of the mushrooms, being used in soups and curries at different Chinese restaurants of the city, are imported from abroad especially from Thailand. One of the partners of “Red Chili,” the most aristocratic restaurant of Bogra, Mohammad Selim said he tried to use raw mushrooms produced in Bogra. But as these could not be preserved for more than a day, he had no choice but to depend on foreign mushrooms.
Lavlu acknowledges that local mushrooms leave much to be desired. He said they are lagging behind due to the dearth of good quality seeds and absence of any preservation facilities for raw mushrooms. Bogra mushroom farmers have expressed reservations about the quality of seeds supplied from the Government Mushroom Centre, Savar.
Though he stopped mushroom cultivation now, Lavlu is still engaged in marketing different types of products made from mushrooms produced in Dhaka or imported from abroad. The food products are: Mushroom Achar (condiments), Mushroom Soup Powder, Mushroom Sharbat Powder and Mushroom Biscuit. He is also marketing toothpaste made from mushrooms, beauty products for women like Upton and cream. For this he has taken a showroom at TMSS Market in Satmatha, Bogra. Lavlu transacts about Tk 50 thousand worth mushrooms a month. He said demand for mushroom produced in Bogra is increasing. He credited the media for playing a very important role in raising the awareness of the people of Bogra about mushroom.