by Jayson M. Gonzales
SAN AGUSTIN, Pili, Camarines Sur---“Mapagal an buhay sa Manila sabi kan aki ko kaya ako interesado na makanuod tungkol sa mushroom para may dagdag na kita kami asin paulion ko na an aki ko.” (Life in Manila is difficult according to my kid. That is why I am attending this mushroom training so that I can have additional income. And I can let my kid return to Bicol.) This was the reason cited by 63-year-old farmer Leopoldo Labangco from Barayong, Cagmanaba, Oas, Albay for attending the Stakeholders’ Hands-On Training and Entrepreneurial-Planning Workshop on Mushroom Production and Value Adding Products held on May 23-27, 2016 at Aplaya de Condes, Cagmanaba, Oas, Albay. The said training was part of the Balik-Probinsiya Program jointly undertaken by the DA, DENR, DILG and the PLGU-Albay under the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD).
Attended by more than 100 participants from the barangays of Badian, Sabang, Cagmanaba, Maramba, Tapel and Nagas, the five-day event taught them to produce, process and market different mushroom varieties such as Oyster, Ganoderm/Shiitake and Milky Mushrooms. According to Albay Provincial Agriculturist Cheryll O. Rebeta, the training will provide additional income because Dr. Oscar O. Parawan, DA-National Convergence Initiative (NCI) Senior Technical Adviser said “Livelihood is the heart of BPP”. However, while BPP has its potentials, the problem encountered was that the beneficiaries tend to go back to being informal settlers once their source of income is exhausted. The BPP hopes that informal settlers within disaster-prone areas in Manila with unstable livelihood would return to their home province and be provided with livelihood. Since the barangays covered by the program have vast rice areas that are suitable for mushroom production, it is introduce as an alternative livelihood program.
According to DA Bicol Regional Focal Person on Mushroom Program Pedro F. Oliver said the local supply for mushroom is limited despite its great demand and profitability. Thus, the participants will be given an opportunity to increase the supply of mushrooms. Samples of mushroom-based food like atchara and fried dried mushroom were presented during the training. Key discussion on the different products that can be made from mushrooms such as prunes, pickles, soup, chips, ice cream, yema, tart, catsup, marmalade, cookies and pastillas were also conducted.
Meanwhile, aside from Mushroom Production, lectures on Beekeeping facilitated by Henry Rafael, and Vermi Composting by Eleanor O. Daep were also conducted. The latter said that the used contents of the mushroom fruiting bags can be used for vermi-composting.
To cap off the five-day training, a fieldtrip/tour at Racelees Mushroom Farm in Iriga City was conducted on May 26, 2016. Former Municipal Councilor and Agriculture Committee Chair Engr. Manuel O. Warde, Jr. who is also present during the activity said he was ecstatic about his newly acquired wisdom from the training. He plans to personally venture into mushroom production, apiculture, vermicomposting and organic farming. His visit to Racelees Farm inspired him. However, Warde suggested that DA should certify that the mushrooms are disease-and-pest-free. Also, he reiterated the strict implementation of the municipal ordinance banning the burning of rice straw since they can be used in the production of mushroom fruiting bags.