Mushroom exports to top US$200 mil by 2015
HCM CITY — Viet Nam has set a target to expand mushroom cultivation and to earn US$150-200 million from exports by 2015, according to the Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Mushroom exports were worth $90 million last year, said Pham Van Du, the department's deputy director, speaking at a conference on mushroom production and development methods in HCM City last Friday.
Viet Nam produces about 250,000 tonnes a year of mushrooms, with more than half of that sold in domestic markets as fresh produce.
With abundant straw, saw dust and sugarcane, which can reach 40 million tonnes per year, Viet Nam has great potential to develop a mushroom sector.
If only 10 per cent of the available mushroom growing materials were used, about 1 million tonnes of mushrooms would be produced, bringing in about $1 billion annually from mushroom exports, according to Du.
Foreign demand for mushrooms is increasing rapidly because of the perceived health value from mushrooms. In addition, mushroom export prices have gone up year by year.
Because mushroom cultivation is still scattered and on a small scale, Viet Nam cannot meet large export orders or long-term export contracts, according to the department.
Nguyen Quang Trung, director of the Soc Trang-based Tu Thao Mushroom Export Process Company, said the company had met only 30 per cent of export orders due to lack of a long-term supply source.
Many conference participants agreed that mushroom production was an economically effective sector.
In addition, using straw in mushroom production has helped reduce the burning of straw, thus contributing to the protection of the environment.
Participants said that, to develop a sustainable sector, localities should invest more money into producing high-quality strains, form large-scale production areas and build industrial mushroom processing facilities.
Vietnamese farmers are producing about 16 kinds of mushrooms, including straw, button, oyster, wood ear and reishi.
Mushrooms are mainly cultivated in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and southern provinces, including Dong Thap, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Can Tho and Dong Nai. Mushroom cultivation in some Asian countries and territories, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, has been industrialised and become an important economic sector. — VNS