RANAU(Sabah), Dec 24 (Bernama) -- An enterprise situated at the scenic
Mesilau in Kundasang, at the foot of Mt Kinabalu, has been harnessing the
mountain’s cool climate to yield high quality mushrooms, especially the shiitake
Borneo Mushroom, established 18 years ago, which is owned by Rural
Development Corporation (KPD), a government agency under the state Ministry of
Agriculture and Food Industries has been credited for its significant
contribution to the mushroom farming industry.
The company''s economic activities are not profit-oriented but geared more
towards complementing the government’s efforts in poverty eradication,
especially among the rural poor in Sabah.
Jamilah Lee, Borneo Mushroom''s manager, said KPD’s venture into mushroom
plantation started from humble beginnings in 1989 where the company nurtured a
few contract farmers in mushroom farming.
"At that time, we also introduced loan scheme to help farmers buy seedlings
in polypropylene bags (pp bags) from a private company.
"Only in 1991 KPD set up its own nursery on its 7-hectares land at Mesilau
and the following year started producing seedlings in pp bags," she said.
Jamilah said initially KPD sought technical expertise on shiitake farming
from experts in Taiwan.
"But later I attended further courses on mushroom farming in Japan and
China, and gradually improved the planting techniques here," she said.
The centre’s activities has since expanded into producing four species of
mushroom seeds and seedlings – shiitake, ganoderma or ling tze, oyster and the
jelly ear mushroom.
On top of that the centre also produces fresh shiitake, oyster, jelly ear
mushroom and the dried ling tze as well as the ling tze coffee and tea.
PROVIDING SEEDLINGS AND TECHNICAL SERVICES
Borneo Mushroom supplies mushroom seedlings in pp bags and provides
technical services on mushroom farming especially to KPD’s contract farmers and
"Currently the centre is producing about 75,000 pp bags per month to meet
the demand from mushroom farmers, especially KPD contract farmers," she said
adding that last year the centre produced almost 48,000 pp bags of seedlings per
The centre also conducts theoretical and technical courses on mushroom
cultivation to participants from private agencies, institutes of higher learning
as well as interested individuals.
"Except for KPD contract farmers, fees are imposed on other participants.
And, shiitake seedlings are only given to KPD contract farmers.
The contract farmers are actually under the poverty eradication programme.
"Those eligible to join as contract farmers must be from a family with a
household income of not more than RM590 a month, which is below the poverty
line," she told Bernama.
Presently KPD has about 70 contract farmers who are only planting shiitake
mushroom. They are mostly in Kundasang, Ranau and Moyog in the Penampang
district in the west coast of Sabah.
According to Jamilah, besides shiitake seedlings, contract farmers also
provided with building material to build the ''mushroom houses'' and required to
attend on-farm training at Borneo Mushroom.
"We also assigned three senior staff to monitor monthly the contract
farmers’ progress," she said adding that the centre currently has about about 20
Under contract farming agreement Borneo Mushroom will buy back shiitake
mushrooms from contract farmers before being sold to the wholesalers.
"All shiitake bought from contract farmers are strictly graded to ensure
that only the best quality products sold to the wholesalers," she said.
GOOD INCOME FROM MUSHROOMS
Jamilah said the contract farmers'' earning depends on their farming scale
often between 300 and 3,000 pp bags, which translate into an earning of about
RM300 to RM3,000 per harvest.
At the moment two of KPD’s most successful shiitake contract farmers in
Moyog, are earning between RM15,000 to RM18,000 a year.
Jamilah said KPD’s total production of mushroom until last September was
21.42 metric tons, an increase of 16 percent compared with the same period last
"For the last three years, we have already trained 907 people including 214
participants under the Hardcore Poor Eradication Programme (PPRT)," she said.
Meanwhile, KPD’s general manager, Datu Haji Basrun Mansor said further
expansion at Borneo Mushroom is already in the pipeline with the RM3.5 million
loan from the state government.
Basrun said the money would be spent to upgrade the centre, including buying
a new boiler and autoclave to double the centre’s present production capacity of
75,000 pp bags.
The expansion plan is necessary in view of the high demand for fresh
mushroom in the country, especially shiitake.
A special information centre would be set up to highlight the history,
function and success of the centre.
"We are also getting funds from the federal government to sponsor about 150
people under the PPRT program to participate in KPD mushroom plantation for
three years," he said.
"We are also considering turning Borneo Mushroom into an agro-tourism
centre, where we can organize farm tours, especially for local and foreign
visitors who want to stay here for pleasure or for educational purposes.
"Occasionally, we have been receiving many visitors from local and foreign
countries who are interested in mushroom farming, including university students
who do research and practical training at the centre," he said.
Basrun said the centre has been awarded with the Halal and Good Agricultural
Practice Scheme (SALM) certificates in 2007 and also the Malaysia Best
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