Growing mushrooms a promising venture for Pantawid beneficiaries in Dingras town

DINGRAS, Ilocos Norte — Eight months ago, a group of 20 villagers of Suyo village in this town who are beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya program tried their luck on mushroom production.
Immediately after they were taught how to grow mushrooms courtesy of the local government of Dingras and the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) funded the establishment of a mushroom production center in Sitio Abkir in Barangay Suyo while the Barangay Council and the Dingras government provided lot and construction materials.
Starting from a few fruiting bags of compost using farm wastes such as rice straw, the project have grown into 1,500 bags, giving steady income to its beneficiaries.
Pegged at PHP200 per kilo,Gary Andres, parent-leader of the Mushroom Producers and Farmers Sustainable Livelihood Program Association said they hope to expand their production area as they envision to have a mushroom processing in the future.
But at this point in time, the association said their harvest is barely enough to supply the local market with an average harvest of about 5-10 kilos daily. Since the start of the project, Andres said they had already raised about PHP30,000 from selling fresh oyster mushroom.
On Wednesday, representatives of the DSWD Regional Office visited the first mushroom production center of SLP participants in Ilocos Norte as they expressed optimism the association will be able to sustain the project.
“The project (mushroom production) looks promising considering that it is now yielding expected output,” said Gil Dennis Raposa, National Program Manager Director of the DSWD Pantawid Pamilya program.
“But it is still too soon to say because we really need to assess whether the marketing approach that they want to adopt in this product is really effective,” Raposa added.
According to Andres, the association is planning to maximize their time and venture into other livelihood project related to mushroom growing such as expanding into processing business.
To date, the association is still buying spawns to other providers hence, Raposa said they may also consider the conduct of additional skills training how to produce their own and be more productive.
“Considering the value chain, we will try to look at possible opportunities and then we will carefully assess together with the project development officers kung ano ang mas realistic and viable movement—kung forward ba or backward linkage sa value chain,” he said.
For his part, Dingras mayor Erdio Valenzuela said it is his dream to uplift the living condition of his constituents by providing them sustainable livelihood.
“Someday, I will be the happiest mayor in town if I can see packaged mushrooms sold anywhere in the province which are produced in Dingras,” the mayor said as he challenged the project recipients to sustain the project and learn from previous experiences when a certain project initiated by the government just die a natural death. PNA/