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Pricy olami in demand

With wild edible mushrooms in demand due to its unique taste, seasonal sale of mushrooms offers good prospects of business to vendors in the state, reports Bhiva P Parab

With monsoons in full swing wild edible mushrooms have started coming to the various markets. Vendors can be seen selling the mushrooms along the roadsides. The wild mushrooms are available for only short period, viz during the rains and demand is always more than the supply. Hence wild mushrooms are costly and their price varies according to the size and availability.

According to the information available from the sources, in some villages this time of the year is devoted for collecting wild mushrooms which grow in forest areas and wilderness. Some people who are involved in collection of the wild edible mushrooms sell it directly in the markets or they sell it to the regular vendors. Villagers prefer to sell the mushrooms directly in the market as they get more money and results in seasonal increase in income. However overexploitation of the wild edible mushrooms should not be done by the collectors as it could have adverse effect on the ecosystem.

In Goa olami (wild edible mushrooms) is a monsoon delicacy. Its taste is mouth watering whichever way of cooking. Arrivals in the markets is around the month of July. However like always the mushrooms are costly and out of the reach of the common man. There are varied types of wild edible mushrooms which are found in the state. This includes ‘Kavale Ron’, ‘Shingar’, ‘Kuratar’, and ‘Chitali’. The vendors can be seen selling the wild edible mushrooms at various places in the state. Small mushrooms are priced around at Rs 250 to 300 per vato comprising of around 30 to 50 mushrooms, while the medium sized mushrooms are priced around at Rs 400 to 500 per vato (consisting of 20 to 50 mushrooms).

Bigger sized mushrooms that are hardly found these days are sold at around Rs 800 to 1000 or more per vato, consisting of 30 to 50 mushrooms. The prices of the wild edible mushroom differs according to size and the price also depends on the quantity available and the demand of the wild mushrooms in the market and the wild edible mushrooms are quite in demand in the state and so there is good rate for these wild edible mushrooms.

It may be noted that if you are not well versed in identifying the wild edible mushrooms one should never venture to collect any mushrooms from the wild for consumption because a large number of species are highly toxic.

A vendor from Panaji said that in the recent years more and more wild edible mushrooms have started entering the various markets of the state and there is quite good demand for the produce. “The rates vary according to the demand and supply. We have to make some profit after selling the wild edible mushrooms and this profit is our earnings for the day, so naturally when we incur higher cost at the source the rate will be higher at the markets and hardly there is fluctuation in the mushroom rates throughout the season.

According to the information available from the sources, the mushroom collectors have the traditional knowledge of mushroom habitats and they can distinguish between the edible and toxic species. The government has imposed a ban on wild mushroom collection in sanctuary areas and such a ban is expected to conserve the wild species for the future. Another vendor selling wild edible mushrooms along the Sankhalim-Bicholim road said, “Goa which is a state blessed with natural beauty and the jungle is the abode of several varieties of wild edible mushrooms. It is believed that during the monsoon season there are certain days when plenty of eatable wild mushrooms are found which include Aashadi Ekadashi, Aamavashay and Punav.

“These mushrooms have to be picked before it flowers because once it flowers germs are there. One should not pick all the mushroom buds from the Roen (anthill), but leave some for regeneration. Growing demand and high prices can cause overexploitation of the wild eatable mushrooms. The number of buds on the Roen varies, it may be that one Roen sometimes has 500 to 1000 mushroom buds, or even sometimes one can get less than 50 also and once the buds are plucked it is advisable to cook them on the same day,” he said.

The vendor also went on to say that the mushroom species outside the ‘Roen’ area could be toxic and one should have real knowledge in picking them and mostly collectors go to the same spots which they know by experience have plenty of edible wild mushrooms.

It may be noted that usually in the local village markets or on the roadsides the vendors can be seen selling the wild edible mushrooms and the price differs from place to place. In places like Valpoi the price of the wild edible mushrooms is less as compared to Panaji market where the same quantity is sold but at higher price.

In places like Pernem and Mapusa the wild edible mushrooms also come from neighbouring villages of Maharashtra. A local from Pernem said that nowadays the wild edible mushrooms have also started entering the Pernem markets and there is a quite good demand for these wild edible mushrooms. He said that the price varies arrivals from outside the state from Maharashtra and villages in the border of Goa are less costly. The cost of wild edible mushrooms in Pernem market is less compared to the city markets like Mapusa and Panaji.

However the taste of the Goan wild edible mushrooms is unique and better than those coming from outside the state. Getting wild edible mushrooms in large quantities is difficult as their production depends on the nature and so mostly the wild edible mushroom varieties are available in small quantities.

A local went on to say that the wild edible mushrooms are good for health as they grow naturally without the help of humans and they have a unique taste and these wild edible mushrooms have been eaten by generations. “Now we are losing these wild edible mushrooms to overexploitation, and fast development because of which their habitat is getting destroyed. Few years back we used to regularly buy these wild edible mushrooms however now hardly once or twice in a season we buy and it is not that everyday same quantity of wild edible mushrooms are sold by the vendors, the quantity varies according to the availability.

During the Nagapanchami festival some people don’t eat the mushrooms as they don’t hurt Mother Earth during the festival time. The mushroom season mostly lasts until Ganesh Chaturthi festival and it is important that we don’t overexploit the wild edible mushrooms.

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