A Professor of Mycology/Plant Pathology of the department of Biological Sciences College of Science and Engineering, Landmark University Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Osemwegie Omorefosa, has canvassed massive cultivation of mushrooms in Nigeria as a panacea to food scarcity in the country.
Delivering the Second Inaugural Lecture of the Landmark University entitled, ‘Mushrooms Renaissance: Biodiversity, Ethnomycological and Agro-Perceptions’ Monday at Omu-Aran, Omorefosa said, mushrooms remained the easiest food items to grow but with huge profits.
The Don, however, warned that not all the varieties of the plant are edible noting that consumption of the edible ones was achieved via trial by defaults with a warning that growers of the plant should stick to the growth of the edible ones rather than experimenting with the new ones.
According to him, “spawn production is the most technical aspect of the mushroom production chain and requires the generation and growth trial of nutritionally selected strains of mushrooms in the laboratory before their release to the public. It is my resolve to lay a formidable foundation for the take-off of mushrooms production centre in Landmark University in no distant time.
“The spread of mushroom production and resulting mushroom produce is gaining acceptance as the safest for human consumption. Edible mushrooms from established farms would arrest the impact of humans on the service delivery and ecological stability of our forests. I would like to challenge us to embrace mushrooms more as biotechnology tools in tackling diverse food security challenges.”
He said the Federal Government should assemble interested mycophagists “who will stick to edible mushrooms that are familiar” rather than experimenting with new ones and ensure proper certification of mushroom production farms or stores for their mushroom culinary.
Among other advantages of mushroom cultivation, the Don stated that it required minute starting capital and low cost implements just as he disclosed that it involved a process that is mainly organic “from farm to fork” and minimised the application of synthetic chemical inputs or expensive antibiotics.
Besides, he believed that it could be a political weapon for youth and women empowerment, rural development, agricultural products diversification, complementary source of agro-income and biofuel generation.
On the therapeutic benefits of consumption of mushrooms Omorefosa said some varieties of the product are globally accepted as priced health and energy foods with scientific implication in disease mitigation, longevity and reproductive health, adding, “the demand is higher than the supply even within Nigeria.”
Speaking at the event, attended by mammoth audience from the town and wig, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Aize Obayan described inaugural lecture as an extension of an age long academic tradition celebrated by an academic.
In the process, such an academic would often inaugurate his entry into the recognized ranks of scholars by presenting to the world his proven pedigree of scholarship and contributions and in the process, introduce the general public and his peers to the deeper pathways of academic enquiry and findings that his work represents.
Quoting from the words of Dr. David Oyedepo, who is the Chancellor of the University Obayan said, “University is a place where solutions to societal problems are found and value added to humanity; a University is not a monastery but a factory that produces values and drives research; the real value of a University is only established by the problems it solves.