Kurdistan To Begin Exporting Mushrooms, Calls For Govt Ban On Imports

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region —The Kurdistan Region is due to begin exporting mushrooms, another sign of a boom in domestic produce and self-reliance, according to the KRG’s agriculture ministry.

According to data from the KRG Agriculture and Water Resources Ministry, there are seven advanced mushroom production projects across the Kurdistan Region, including three in Erbil, three in Sulaimani and one in Duhok, with a total daily output of 16 tons.

The ministry is attributing the spike in demand to a growing concern over healthy living.

Mushrooms are typically produced above ground. They contain abundant proteins and in some countries are considered as a replacement of red meat.

“Due to the growth of people’s awareness of buying healthy and fresh food, there is increase in demand for mushrooms,” Hussein Hama Karim, spokesperson of the agriculture ministry, told Rudaw on Monday. “This has encouraged producers to establish advanced projects.”

“Another two projects are under construction,” he said, adding the aim is to increase product to 22 tons every day in the next two years in order to export them to other parts of Iraq.

Mushroom production consists of three segments. The first is to produce the seed and sprout of the mushroom. The second part is adding compost, essential to the mushroom’s growth, before the final stages of production.

The White Mushroom Project, established two years ago near Dolabakra village in Qushtapa, Erbil has a total daily output of six tons, according to the owner.

“In the beginning we started our project to grow mushrooms in 19 rooms and it was pretty successful,” project owner Zana Nuri said. “This year we expanded the project by creating another 24 rooms.”

“We produce six tons every day,” he said. “In 45 days, we will increase our produce to 12 tons.”

The three mushroom projects of Sulaimani collectively produce six tons on a daily basis.

Penjwen Mushroom Project is the oldest in the province and has a total output of 2300 kilos every day.

“All the mushroom projects of Sulaimani are operating. They each send mushroom to markets  per their own capacity and they sell, but our profit is not doing very well due to high cost [of production] and cheap price,” Yousif Namiq, head of the Penjwen project and member of the Sulaimani Mushroom Projects Group, said.

“For example, the cost of producing five tons is 12 million dinars, while we sell one kilo for 2,500 dinars,” he added.

Mushrooms need 35 days to grow and can be planted in all seasons.

Despite the losses, factories keep expanding with the aim of increasing exportation.

Shiler Project for the Production of Mushrooms was established in 2013. In the beginning they had just six production rooms, but they expanded the scope of their work to 21 rooms in 2018.

“Mushrooms are of high value, no less than red meat,” Hiwan Tofiq, the owner of the project said.”

People have not found out how valuable this food item is,” he added.

He is calling on other mushroom producers to join efforts and advertise for their products to introduce to people to their health benefits.

Unlike other agricultural products, Nuri says they do not have a problem selling their products, but want action from the government to ban importation.

“We sell the bulk of mushrooms in the Kurdistan Region,” he said, adding the remaining part goes to other parts of Iraq.

“If the government is really working to help boost domestic produce and ban the importation of canned mushrooms, we will be ready to establish our own factories, “he added.

The majority of Kurdish mushroom projects rely on Iranian materials for their work in the first and second stages of the plantation and growth of mushrooms, according to Nuri.

“But I fully depend on myself across the three stages of production. For composting process we capitalize on wheat bran,” he said. “Every year we buy bran from farmers for $300,000. And to create the spurn of mushrooms, we have established a lab where we produce the seed ourselves.”

Not everyone can avoid Iranian produce, however.

“The cost of one ton of domestic compost is 500,000 dinars, while a ton of Iranian compost we buy for 250,000 dinars,” said Yousif Namiq. “That is why we use the Iranian compost.”

Source: Rudaw.net

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