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Entrepreneur sees big potential in oyster mushroom production, gets nod from DOST-TAPI

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios

Who would have thought that the feasibility study that she chose would lead to a local agri-business enterprise? Vision, determination and astuteness led to the success of Maria Bernadette S. Navera who hails from the province of Camarines Sur.

As a visionary, Navera saw the bigger opportunity awaiting in the mushroom business in the region and her haunch was right as the mushroom cultivation continue to flourish in the Bicol Region since 2016. With this indication of the arrival of community-based mushroom growers, Navera decided to establish Exotix Organicum Mushroom Farm, a startup enterprise in the province of Camarines Sur.

How it all began

Navera’s interest in mushroom started when she was an entrepreneurial management student at the Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges. She first conducted a feasibility study on mushroom production as an undergraduate project and found the inherent potential of the business.

Her study revealed that a temperature range of 120-131˚C should be maintained for 2.5 hours to achieve the pressure at 15 pounds per square inch (PSI) and avoid incorrect sterilization which leads to contamination.

According to Navera, mushroom production must also possess a good substrate as a source of energy and nutrition for the strain, reliable spawn, and right temperature, to achieve a successful mushroom cultivation.

“We used a drum and a still air box instead of a pressure cooker and a laminar flow hood, respectively, in producing oyster mushrooms to lower the cost of investment in acquiring equipment,” said Navera.

Furthermore, her study projected a production and harvest of 168 kilograms of mushrooms by using 25 kilograms of substrate per month.

“For the time being, we can distribute a total of 73 kilograms of mushrooms to nine identified clients in Buhi and Iriga City per month,” added Navera.

Leveling up

Found to be feasible when implemented, the Technology Application and Promotion Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-TAPI) granted a financial assistance of Php 266,108.11 to Navera under the Stage II of the DOST-Academe Technology-Based Enterprise Development (DATBED) Program.

DATBED Stage II provides financial assistance to Stage I beneficiaries who have shown the capability to manage their technology-based projects on their own or in Navera’s case, graduates who have conducted feasibility studies that were found to be viable for commercialization.

“With a projected annual gross profit of Php 604,800 and a projected four-year average return-on-investment of 44 percent, we are hopeful that this project will pioneer student technopreneurship in oyster mushroom production,” said Mylene A. Alano, DATBED Program Manager.

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