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KEPALA BATAS, PENANG, 2 March 2024 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) via the School of Distance Education (PPPJJ) has engaged with the local community of Pinang Tunggal in mainland Penang to carry out a joint Volvariella mushroom farming project.

The project research head from PPPJJ, Dr. Jacquelina Karimon said, the university has been conducting the venture since September last year at the Pinang Tunggal oil palm estate, and about 30 villagers, mostly single mothers and housewives from Kampung Tok Bedu and Kampung Kubang Menerong are involved,

“This project will help generate additional income for the residents involved, boosting their socio-economic status and providing them with a better quality of life,” she said.  

Jacquelina further explained, “The mushrooms were chosen as it was not only easy to cultivate and cheap but could also generate up to thousands of ringgit in revenue each month due to their high demand.”

“The mushrooms can be harvested in a short period, so it is suitable for farmers with other commercial crops like oil palm, rubber and bananas to use these mushrooms as a secondary integrated crop to maximise their land usage,” she said during the programme’s officiation here today.

She added that currently there was only one area in Kedah where the crop was planted commercially as the mushrooms were a new crop in the country.

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Jacquelina said that the mushrooms were 100 per cent chemical-free as it did not require any chemicals for its growth and were fresher under natural light.

On long-term plans, Jacquelina said they would try to expand the area of planting by exploring suitable areas in North Seberang Perai district, which seemed to have many agricultural sources with the potential to be part of this project.

“We will also work with other lecturers with bio-chemical backgrounds to produce our own seeds, which can be of better quality and durability as the mushroom is quite prone to damage.

We intend to have a farming kit so that everyone can plant their own mushroom crop at home,” she added.

Meanwhile, Tok Bedu Village Community Management Council chairman Zulkifli Saad expressed his thanks to USM for choosing Pinang Tunggal as the pioneer area for the mushroom crop, sharing that the revenue gained had added to the incomes of participants.

He said he never thought that the oil palm husks could be used as a planting medium for mushrooms and allow them to rake in such good returns.

“The mushrooms are really easy to plant and can produce a good harvest. So far, we have yet to be able to market our harvest widely because there is already high demand among our own villagers,” he said, adding that the revenue from sales were distributed evenly among participants.

Among those present at the ceremony were the Director of Community Network, Division of Industry and Community Network (BJIM) USM, Dr. Ainul Mohsein Abdul Mohsin; Dean of USM PPPJJ, Assoc. Professor Dr. Zulnaidi Yaacob; North Seberang Perai District Officer, Rosmin Yaacob; Pinang Tunggal penghulu, Sayuthi Ismail; MPKK Tok Bedu, Zulkifli Saad; and MPKK Kubang Menerong, Abdullah Che together with more than 50 volunteers from USM which included 30 USM PPPJJ students who are currently undergoing their Intensive Course for two weeks in USM.

Translation: Tan Ewe Hoe 

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