Mushroom production is seen as a lucrative business nowadays. Interestingly, this commodity has been a favorite project of the Young Farmers Challenge program of the Department of Agriculture because of its versatility in terms of lower capital, easy management and high profitability as well.

In fact, 5 out of the 34 young farmers’ business proposals this year involve mushroom production. One of them is Mr. Jemly Orias, 26 years old from Brgy. Bantug, Umingan, Pangasinan. He is the owner and manager of the Jim Mushroom Farm that engages in fresh and processed mushroom including mushroom fruiting bags and spawn production for marketing.

A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture of the Pangasinan State University in Sta. Maria Campus, Jemly is one of the budding young entrepreneurs who opted to put into practice the things he learned in school that molded him to what he has now become – a successful young businessman.

Jemly’s growing passion into mushroom production started from his work as an agent of agricultural chemicals when he was assigned in Nueva Vizcaya. One of his clients then was a mushroom grower from whom he got his inspiration to engage in mushroom production.

“Naengganyo akong subukan ang pagkakabute nung makita ko ang growing house niya with around 20,000 fruiting bags,” Mr. Orias shared.

“Sabi niya, maganda itong mushroom dahil daily ang paghaharvest, daily din ang income,” he added.

Hearing this from his clients, he immediately bought 1,000 pieces of fruiting bags which he brought home to Pangasinan.

Decided to push through with this new found passion, he invested his time and efforts to learn the nitty-gritty of growing mushroom. He connected with the Agricultural Training Institute and attended several trainings and webinars on mushroom production that has indeed become beneficial in starting his mushroom enterprise.

From there, he was able to acquire new skills and knowledge especially on the technical information in preparing the fruiting bags, decomposting of substrate, incubation and all other production management in mushroom growing.

Having equipped with the technical know-how, he was able to make his own spawn that resulted to a significant cut in his growing expenses.

“Gumawa na kami ng sarili naming fruiting bags at hindi na kami kailangang bumili. Nakapagpagawa na rin kami ng growing house at doon isasabit ang aming mga ginawang fruiting bags,” Mr. Orias, relates.

Seeing the high potential of his mushroom venture as a good source of daily income for him and his family, he eventually resigned from his work as an agri-chemical agent and focused his time and effort in his enterprise.

With an average of 25 kilos daily harvest from the 1,000 fruiting bags, his earnings as an agri-chemical agent is way lower than his income today.

Using the oyster type of mushroom, the 1,000 fruiting bags has become 5,000 bags, to 10,000 bags up to 15,000 bags today. Situated in a 52 sq. m. area, he is planning to expand this into processing area as well as additional growing area.

However, just like any other businesses, Jemly have met many challenges along the way. Nonetheless, he was able to cope up and never gave up.

One of the challenges he encountered is the marketing aspect of his enterprise. With the increasing production of fresh mushroom, and the non-popularity of the commodity in their area, there was an oversupply which made it hard for him to dispose his produce. However, he was able to overcome this by strategizing through a house to house selling in their community. He also did a free-tasting strategy and implore value adding by processing his mushroom produce into chips with the help of her sister. He likewise put up a tent along the highway that served as his stall to market his products.

All these strategies have truly paid off as more customers are now patronizing his products. Aside from the fresh and mushroom chips, Mr. Orias has also developed his produce into mushroom chili garlic oil that has truly found a niche in the market.

Through a consignment basis, he was able to expand his marketing outlets into different stores. Reselling his products also opened doors for other business-enthusiast to adopt his product with the use of social media like facebook and Instagram.

Aside from mushroom processing, Jemly is also now engaged in fruiting bag selling at P25 per bag as well as spawn growing to cater the needs of individuals who are also planning to put up the same enterprise.

With the increasing demand for both fresh and processed mushroom products, Mr. Orias is keen on getting requirements for FDA registration that would make his products safer and more acceptable to customers.

In coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry in Pangasinan, he is working out on the necessary requirements for the labeling and packaging of his products, the microbial test that it requires as well as the nutrition facts necessary for the FDA registration.

Getting all the necessary support from his family and government agencies, he never cease on looking for opportunities that would help in expanding his business.

The Young Farmers Challenge Fund program of the Department of Agriculture, where he is one of the awardees who received P50,000 financial grant is truly a game-changer for him as a budding entrepreneur. It has given him leverage to expand further his enterprise.

He now plans to grab the opportunity to avail for additional loan from the KAYA or Kapital Acces for Young Agripreneurs, another financial assistance opportunity from DA, which he hopes would bring him closer to earning his first million in the near future.

Truly thankful of the Young Farmers Challenge program of DA, Jemly’s story of success is in itself a testimony of a dependable government that seeks to ensure brighter future for the young generation thru agriculture.###