SALALAH: If tapped properly, Dhofar mountains have huge potential for seasonal vegetables. Mushrooms, which are great in demand these days among health-conscious people, are abundantly available on the Dhofar mountains, which get regular monsoon rains during the Khareef season.
The quality of mushrooms found in the mountains during the Khareef season is far better than the imported ones in terms of taste and size.
“It tastes so good that it is sold at a very high price all through the season. Due to very limited production, its supply remains limited only to Salalah that too in a limited quantity. The reason being the farming set up, which is not organised. Only some farmers do it out of passion and many do not even opt to sell. They distribute it among friends and relatives,” said a local farmer Said al Sahri.
“Not only they are fresh, their quality is so good that people love to have it. Since they are seasonal and grown naturally, the demand is very high. I suggest the farmers and policymakers take steps to grow mushrooms on a commercial scale. The quality shows that Salalah climate is suitable for mushroom farming,” said Al Sahri.
Another farmer counted all the possible conditions for mushroom farming present in the areas where there impact of monsoon in Dhofar.
“Not much light is needed to grow mushroom because mushrooms cannot extract nutrients from the sun as green plants do. So they do not need light. At the same time, mushrooms do not necessarily need a dark environment. This element is easily available in Salalah areas during the Khareef season. It has got a natural setting for mushroom farming,” he said.
Not an expert in agriculture, but an experienced farmer Ali calls moisture another important condition for mushroom. “Moisture is available all through the monsoon season. Mushroom thrives in moist environments. We have noticed good quality mushrooms growing organically in the mountains. Everyone knows there is a great demand for organic products these days.”
Humidity is yet another condition for mushroom farming. Temperature is another factor and depends on the quality of mushroom. “Not very high temperature is needed for mushroom farming. During the Khareef season, the mountains mostly have 26 to 20 degrees of temperature. It suits mushroom,” he said.
Mushrooms mostly need nutrients from organic material. It can always be managed with the support of the authorities concerned. “This is an area which can be managed as mushrooms generally need sugar, starch, lignin, fats, protein, and nitrogen. With the abundance of cattle wealth and vegetation in Dhofar, the requirement of compost made from manure and straw is an easy resource.”
Proper planning can lead to surplus mushroom farming in Dhofar. “We can be in a position to export it to other GCC countries,” said Ali