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ONLINE NEWS: USM AND PINANG TUNGGAL COMMUNITY'S MUSHROOM VENTURE BOOSTS LOCAL ECONOMY

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USM and Pinang Tunggal Community's Mushroom Venture Boosts Local Economy
by Salman Akhtar | 2 March 2024

USM and Pinang Tunggal Community's Mushroom Venture Boosts Local Economy
USM and Pinang Tunggal Community's Mushroom Venture Boosts Local Economy

Kepala Batas' latest socio-economic development comes through a unique collaboration between Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and the Pinang Tunggal community, aimed at enhancing the livelihoods of local residents through Volvariella mushroom cultivation. Since September last year, this venture has engaged about 30 villagers, predominantly single mothers and housewives, from Kampung Tok Bedu and Kampung Kubang Menerong, marking a significant step towards agricultural innovation and community empowerment.

Empowering the Community with Sustainable Agriculture

Dr. Jacquelina Karimon, the programme's research head, highlighted the selection of Volvariella mushrooms for their ease of cultivation and high market demand, which could yield substantial monthly income. This venture not only offers a lucrative opportunity for villagers but promotes the use of oil palm estate lands for dual purposes, thereby maximizing land use. The cultivation process, which is 100% chemical-free and leverages natural light, underscores the project's commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices.

Innovative Approach to Mushroom Cultivation

With the aim of expanding the project, USM plans to explore suitable areas in the North Seberang Perai district and develop high-quality, durable seeds in collaboration with bio-chemical experts. This initiative also includes the introduction of a farming kit, enabling wider community participation in mushroom cultivation. Dr. Karimon's vision for the project extends beyond immediate economic benefits, focusing on long-term sustainability and self-sufficiency for the community.

Community Impact and Future Prospects

Zulkifli Saad, chairman of the Tok Bedu Village Community Management Council, expressed gratitude towards USM for the transformative impact of the mushroom cultivation project. The initiative has not only provided an additional income stream for participants but has also introduced an innovative use of oil palm husks as a planting medium. With an already established local demand for the mushrooms, the project promises a bright future for the community's economic development and serves as a model for similar initiatives elsewhere.

This collaborative venture between USM and the Pinang Tunggal community not only showcases the potential of agribusiness in rural economic development but also sets a precedent for university-community partnerships in Malaysia. As the project grows, it holds the promise of not just elevating the socio-economic status of participating households but also contributing to the broader goal of sustainable and inclusive agricultural development.

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