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Khamis, 20 Ogos 2009

The Star -14/08/2009 (ahli persatuan usahawan cendawan melayu kelantan)

Mushrooming business

THE door to a hut opens to reveal rows and rows of bottles lined up neatly on wooden racks.

Inside each of these bottles is a growing mushroom which, in time, will poke its little head out the mouth of the bottle and bloom like a bright-coloured flower.

This is how Zulkifli Mohamad, 36, cultivates his Ganoderma mushroom at his house compound in Panji in Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan.

He grows mushrooms in 30,000 bottles inside the hut and plans to expand with another 3,000 bottles in a second hut.

Zulkifli checking some mature mushrooms growing from bottles inside the mushroom hut.

The entrepreneur, who has been cultivating mushrooms for the past nine months, said the demand had been good with almost all his mushrooms sold.

They were priced between RM20 and RM25 per kilogram depending on the size.

“My monthly income is bet- ween RM1,500 and RM2,000,” said Zulkifli who is a member of the Kelantan Malay Mushroom Entrepreneurs Association.

The former subcontractor said he invested RM37,000 in the project and had sought an additional RM15,000 funding from the Tekun Nasional loan scheme.

At a recent meeting of some 50 association members in Kota Baru, the Kelantan Agriculture Department challenged mushroom growers in the state to succeed in their venture to prove that they were serious about their business.

Department director Maliha Ghazali said each of them would be considered for a RM20,000 grant from the department if they were successful.

Zulkifli holding up two bottles with the mushrooms growing out of them.

“Mushroom growers have never received financial aid from the department so far.

“However, since there is a marked increase in the number of mushroom growers, I believe support should be given.

“But I need proof of the viability of the project first,” she said.

Maliha said many associations failed to succeed in their ventures into vegetable cultivation because of mismanagement.

“This is despite the assistance given by the department such as financial aid and the marketing of the vegetables,” she said.

During the 1980s, she said many mushroom growers went bust because of arsenic contamination.

This was because the sawdust used as the base ingredient was tainted with chemicals.

Association chairman Hasmi Hassan said he would organise courses for members that would cover sales, quality control and marketing.

The most important thing, he stressed, was the control of production costs to enable members to make a profit.

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