Existing for over 300 million years, mushrooms have been the subject of many researches for its numerous properties. Found in fossilized wood, mushrooms have been estimated to have over 2300 species with properties that are useful in both the culinary and medical world. Its medicinal properties include being anti-oxidants, and containing rich amounts of minerals and protein. Its exceptional taste and quality have also won over the culinary world, deeming mushroom as a valuable ingredient. Along with the valuable properties that mushrooms possess, its production is not as demanding as the other crops.
Mushroom cultivation, though labor-intensive, requires only few and sustainable materials. Mushroom cultivation is done through the use of substrates or any agricultural waste that will act as the soil on the wood. Different substrates produces different yields which has been the subject of many research studies, in order to ensure maximum production and profit. The cultivation can be done in a small room with the right temperature, which can be a great remedy to the growing number of landless farmers. Along with this, mushroom cultivation has proven to be a promising and profitable agricultural business due to the great demand for it. Mushroom cultivation has become a solution to financial, and agricultural difficulties that are being faced by farmers.
Agricultural difficulties include the loss of land due to the fast-growing and side-by-side developments in the modern world. Though modernization is a big threat, forest areas that are being preserved also contributed to increased the number of landless farmers; resulting to the agricultural sector becoming one of the most poverty-stricken sectors. Sustainable and income-generating, mushroom has become a viable and precise choice in livelihood diversification. Livelihood diversification is the research, adaptation and integration of new income-generating activities, preferably related to the existing line of work, in order to improve one’s standard of living.
With mushroom production as a small-scale business, it grants landless farmers the opportunity to earn and continue working on the agricultural sector. Along with this, women are also given the chance to earn on themselves and still perform their gender-related responsibilities. This income-generating opportunity does not only do good for the livelihood but also on self-confidence and independence and creates a sense of empowerment.
For five years, Sitio Pactil and the SBMVGA has kept their livelihood because of their vigor and desire to keep it running. Attending seminars and trainings, actively running and keeping the organization intact has kept the community intact as well. Mushroom has become an important part of the community’s daily lives, as a financial support and a source of food. In addition, mushroom production has also become a leisure activity for the community, impacting even the relationships in the organization. Producing a great amount in a year, with over 200 fruiting bags lasting for 8-10 months, mushroom production has its own economic benefits. A significant amount of incalculable yield, mushroom production has kept the community’s finances steady and growing.
With Sitio Pactil as one example, mushroom production has proven itself to be a viable livelihood that ensures sustainability for small-time farmers.