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Mushroom business: First think small, then grow big

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Home farming only takes 10 metre area to earn additional income. Housewives, retired people, anyone with some free time can try it. 

The mutsutake mushroom, also called the pine mushroom, is a highly sought-after mushroom that grows in Asia, Europe, and North America, prized by the Japanese and Chinese for its distinct spicy-aromatic odor (Source: Wikipedia)


Mushroom Kingdom

A housewife's backyard hobby keeps Thai restaurants supplied


Yuthana Praiwan

Investment could break even in eight or nine months, says Mrs Sirinat. YUTHANA PRAIWAN

Sirinat Noonpakdee was over the moon when she saw that the yanagi mutsutake mushrooms planted two months ago were ready to harvest.

The 39-year-old housewife had spent 45,000 baht on a cultivation unit at her house in Lam Luk Ka, Pathum Thani since early this year, but the first crop was not seen until two weeks ago.

The Japanese mushroom is a fixture of Thai cuisines that are popular among health-conscious local people, generally appearing in premium Thai restaurants.

Mrs Sirinat's idea sprouted in late 2011 after flooding destroyed the garden in her backyard. She began to look at the possibility of owning her own business as a small mushroom farmer.

"I was so desperate because my lovely garden was full of mud after the floods ended," she said.

Mrs Sirinat's youngest son turned three years old around that time and she sent him to kindergarten. With free time on her hands, she turned to mushroom farming instead of restoring the old garden.

Her first step was attending a training course for mushroom farming taught by an expert last year.

"At least I could help my husband, who is a senior engineer at Thai Airways, earn more money for the family's monthly bills," she said.

Songi gui (송이구이), grilled matsutake in Korean cuisine (Source: Wikipedia)

Together with her husband, Mrs Sirinat last year turned part of the backyard into a small mushroom house. The investment included the structure itself, mushroom substrate and organic pesticides. Cultivation began in August and the first set of mushrooms appeared this month.

The first crop is estimated at 30 kilogrammes, to be sold to wholesalers for a sum of 7,000-8,000 baht. The second crop is expected in the next two weeks.

"The revenue from my little mushroom house could make my investment break even within eight or nine months," Mrs Sirinat said.

Sanphaiboon Thanbowontham is the owner of Bowon Tham Mushroom Farm, which offers services and materials for mushroom farming. He said mushroom farming is getting popular on the outskirts of Bangkok and other big cities because of high demand from restaurants.

This business is suitable not only for housewives, but also retired white-collar workers who can earn additional income.

Choosing the kind of mushroom is important because growing techniques vary depending on type.

"Just prepare an area of at least 10 square metres at your house to develop into a small mushroom unit," said Mr Sanphaiboon.

He advises farmers-to-be to cautiously select a service provider and use hygienic mushroom substrate. In the past, some conventional mushroom farmers failed to improve productivity, choosing improper mushroom substrate.

"Humidity should be appropriate," he said. "If the mushroom house is too humid, there will be fungi. If too dry, productivity will be low."

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additional: more; more than was first mentioned or is usual - ที่เพิ่มขึ้น

advise: to tell somebody what you think they should do in a particular situation - แนะนำ, แจ้ง

appear: to be seen; to start to be seen - ปรากฏตัว

appropriate: (opposite: inappropriate) suitable or right for a particular situation or purpose - ที่เหมาะสม

aromatic: having an especially good smell - มีกลิ่นหอม

attend: to go to an event, such as a meeting, a show, a sports competition, etc. - เข้าร่วม (ในการประชุม, งานต่าง)

backyard: the area in back of a house - สวนหลังบ้าน, พื้นที่หลังบ้าน

break even: when a business earns just enough money to pay for its costs, not making a profit or a loss; cover the expense, make money to cover the cost - คุ้มทุน, คุ้ม, ไม่ได้ไม่เสีย, ไม่เสียดุลย์

cautiously: in a way that is careful to avoid danger or possible problems - อย่างระมัดระวัง

conscious: aware - ที่ตระหนักได้

conventional: usual or normal - ธรรมดา

crop: a plant grown for food, usually on a farm - พืชผล

cuisine: a style of cooking - ประเภทอาหาร

cultivation: the preparation and use of land for growing plants or crops - การเตรียมดินสำหรับเพาะปลูก

demand: the need and desire of people to buy goods - อุปสงค์

depend on: according to; affected by things that happen - ขึ้นอยู่กับ

desperate: very worried or confused because you do not know how to deal with an unpleasant or dangerous situation - อย่างสิ้นหวัง  อย่างหมดหวัง

develop: to think of or produce a new idea, product, etc. and make it successful; to build new houses, factories, etc. on an area of land, especially land that was not being used effectively before - พัฒนา

distinct: clearly noticeable - ชัดแจ้ง

engineer: a person who arranges for something to happen, especially in a skilful way - ผู้วางแผน

estimate: an amount that you guess or calculate using the information available - ประมาณการ

estimated: thought to be a particular amount, size, etc. based on a guess or the best information available - ประมาณการ

expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ

fixture: a person or thing that is firmly as part of something -

free time: time when you are not working, so you can do what you want - เวลาว่าง, เวลาที่ว่างจากการทำงาน

fungi: a living thing that grows in damp and wet places - เชื้อรา

generally: true in most cases and situations - โดยทั่วไป, โดยปกติ, ส่วนมาก

grill: to cook something by direct heat, especially under a very hot surface in a cooker - ย่าง

harvest: to gather in ripe crops - เก็บเกี่ยว

highly sought-after: many people want to buy it, there is high-demand for this product -

hobby: an activity that you do for pleasure when you are not working - งานอดิเรก

humid: hot and wet in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable - ที่ร้อนชื้น

humidity: the amount of water that is present in the air - ความชุ่มชื้น

hygienic: clean and not likely to cause illness or disease - ถูกสุขอนามัย

income: money that someone gets from working or from investing money - รายได้

investment: the act of investing money in something - การลงทุน

kindergarten: a school for children, usually between the ages of two and five - โรงเรียนอนุบาล

local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น

local: in this country (Thailand) -

material: a substance that things can be made from - วัตถุ

mud: dirt mixed with water - โคลน

mushroom: a fungus (a type of plant) that usually has a short stem and a round top. Some mushrooms can be eaten, but many are poisonous - เห็ด

mutsutake: a pine mushroom, a highly sought-after mushroom that grows in Asia, Europe, and North America, prized by the Japanese and Chinese for its distinct spicy-aromatic odor (Source: Wikipedia) -

odor: smell - กลิ่น

organic: produced or practised without using artificial chemicals - (เกษตรกรรม)เชิงชีวภาพ

outskirts: the areas at the edge of a city - ชานเมือง

over the moon: extremely happy and excited - ลิงโลดใจ, ยินดียิ่ง

pesticide: a chemical used for killing insects, especially those that damage crops - ยาฆ่าแมลง

popular: a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ

possibility: the fact that something might exist or happen, but is not certain to - สิ่งที่เป็นไปได้

premium: of higher quality or more expensive than other similar things - ที่มีคุณภาพสูง, พรีเมี่ยม

prized: very valuable to somebody - มีค่า

productivity: the rate at which a worker, company or whole country produces goods compared with the resources or inputs needed to produce them such as labour, capital, machines and equipment needed to produce them - ผลิตภาพ; การเพิ่มผลผลิต; ความสามารถในการผลิต

restore: to bring somebody/something back to a former condition, place or position - กลับคืน, กลับมารับตำแหน่ง

retired: no longer working because you have reached the age where you are officially too old to work or you want to stop working - เกษียณอายุ

senior: with a high rank or position - อาวุโส

set: a group or collection of things - ชุด, กลุ่ม

spicy: burning the tongue because of hot peppers; having a strong taste because spices have been used to flavour it เ - ผ็ด, ,ฉุน, รสจัด

sprout up: appear suddenly -

step: one of a series of actions that you do in order to achieve a particular aim - ขั้นตอน

structure: something large such as a building or a bridge that is built from different parts - โครงสร้าง

substrate: starting material for growing a plant, underneath a plant and providing food and nourishment - สารตั้งต้น(ทางเคมี)

suitable: acceptable or right for someone or something - เหมาะสม

sum: an amount of something, especially money - จำนวนเงิน

supplies: an amount of something that is provided or available to be used - ปริมาณที่มีอยู่, จำนวนที่มีอยู่

technique: a method of doing something using a special skill that you have developed - เทคนิค, กลวิธี (เฉพาะด้าน)

training: teaching people how to do a certain job or activity - การฝึกอบรม, การฝึก, การอบรม

white-collar: working in an office, rather than in a factory, etc; connected with work in offices - เกี่ยวกับงานนั่งโต๊ะ มีเงินเดือนประจำ และไม่ต้องใช้แรงงาน

wholesaler: a company that does "wholesale" as a business, buying and selling goods in large quantities -

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