The Council of Agriculture stated that in order to solve the problem of mushroom culture spawn attenuation in Taiwan while providing spawns with stable quality to increase productivity, the COA’s Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) has assisted the Hsinshe District Farmer’s Association in establishing the Taiwan Mushroom Spawn Production and Development Research Center. The Center was inaugurated by COA Minister Chen, Bao-ji on November 6th, 2015. In the future, the facility will provide premium quality mushroom spawns to domestic farmers so as to elevate the production quantity and quality. It is estimated that the overall annual mushroom production can be increased by 20%, meaning roughly NT$ 2.6 billion.
Central and local governments join forces to find a solution to crucial spawn related problems such as raising production costs caused by low production
The COA pointed out that in Taiwan, production of shiitake, wood ear, and enokitake are among the largest ones. There are also other emerging varieties such as the king oyster mushroom, oyster mushroom, shimeji mushroom, and golden oyster mushroom. The annual mushroom production value is around NT$ 13.3 billion, which takes up 18% of the total vegetable production value of NT$ 73.3 billion. Due to its low-calorie property and the fact that it contains healthy substances such as polysaccharide and triterpenes, edible fungi’s popularity and demand are gradually increasing. However, fungi production method differs from that of ordinary crops. Mushrooms are macro-fungi which possess a simpler genetic composition. They are susceptible to the environment and long-term procreation process which lead to mutation and attenuation, thus affecting production and quality.
AFA statistics show that in Taiwan, bag-cultivated shiitake mushrooms production volume has gradually decreased from 256 kg (per 10,000 bags) in 2005 and 252 kg in 2006 to 214 kg in 2014. It shows a steady decline that led to high production costs. The problem also plagues other varieties such as king oyster mushroom, enokitake, and champignon. The need for a professional mushroom spawn center to help elevate quality and stabilize supply was imminent. Therefore, the AFA actively assisted the Farmer’s Association of the largest shiitake production district, Hsinshe, to establish a spawn production and development research center. The Seed Station assisted the center in acquiring the facility and quality control protocol, while the Agricultural Research Institute assisted with liquid spawn production and activity test techniques, as well as subsequent counseling and training.
Spawn Center to be run by Farmer’s Association and mushroom farmers can share the profits by becoming a shareholder
The COA stated that advising Farmer’s Association to invest in the Spawn Center is only a first step. In the future, spawn cultivation facilities will be set up when the whole operation is ready to enter large scale production stage. Mushroom farmers will be able to join the corporation as shareholders and the establishment will specialize in spawn supply so as to strengthen the industry’s supplier-retailer efficiency as well as to establish a shared profit system. The COA further explained that premium quality spawns can increase production and quality. It is estimated that at least 20% of the production volume can be reached while creating an annual production value of over NT$ 2.6 billion. The objective is to provide a superior yet more economic line of mushroom products to the domestic market while creating a win-win situation for both the industry and consumers.
Seal of quality and safety: mushroom product label
COA also explained that Hsinshe is a major mushroom production district in Taiwan, and its Farmer’s Association has actively engaged in promoting the development of local industries. In order to boost the sales of domestic mushroom products, the Association has already built a safe and high-quality image for the products by obtaining both the “TAP” (Traceable Agricultural Products) and the “TSS” (Taiwan Safe Shianggu) labels. The COA further explained that the mushroom industry was the first to join the “Taiwan Agricultural Product Traceability System” (QR-Code) when it was implemented in July 2015. Consumers are able to obtain information of the manufacturer just by scanning the traceability code on the product’s packaging. The system will intensify consumers’ trust in domestic mushroom products. Food safety is guaranteed when consumers choose products with the “Taiwan Agro-product Traceability System” (QR-Code), the “TAP”, or the “TSS” labels.