Mrs Chi Tola, the Founder, Mushroom Development Foundation (MDF) Nigeria, on Tuesday in Lagos said that a well-cultured Oyster mushroom could adequately replace maize in fish feed production.

Tola told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that fish feed was a major constraint to aquaculture development, hence, the need for alternatives for sustainability.

She said that researches conducted showed that graded levels of oyster mushroom of between 0 to 100 per cent of Cultured Dried Whole Mushroom (DCM) supported growth of fingerling, O.niloticus.

“Fish feed is a major constraint to aquaculture development in developing countries like Nigeria, where maize is the main carbohydrate energy source in fish diets.

“This is due to its overuse in livestock feeds and human consumption, which makes it relatively expensive and scarce; hence, the need for alternatives for sustainability.

“Oyster mushroom and Pleurotus ostreatus are edible fungus widely cultured for its ease of cultivation, nutritional and medicinal qualities.

“Now, we can replace maize with graded levels (0, 25, 50, 75 and 100 per cent) of DCM in fish feeds, and research confirms that oyster mushroom supports growth of O.niloticus fingerlings,’’ she said.

Tola said that Oyster mushroom was first cultured in Germany during World War I as a subsistence measure and currently, it is the second most cultured mushroom worldwide.

She said that she had been in the mushroom business since 1998 during her days in Ghana and found it very lucrative as a business.

According to her, uses of mushroom are so vast in nutritional and medicinal potency, especially with the recent belief that it could destroy cancer, heart disease and AIDS.

“It is not well known that mushrooms are full of nutrients and can, therefore, make a very important contribution to human nutrition like protein which is one of the most important nutrients in building body tissues.

“Mushrooms with protein content ranging from three to seven per cent when fresh, to 25-40 per cent when dry can play an important role in enriching human diets when meat sources are limited.

“The protein content is almost equal to that of corn, milk, and legumes though still lower than meat, fish and eggs.

“Using modern approaches, scientists have isolated and identified specific components that can either destroy or at least debilitate three of mankind’s’ killer diseases like cancer, heart disease and AIDS,’’ she said.

Tola, also the Founder of Women in Agricultural Advancement and Sustainability Africa (WAASA), said that mushrooms were superior to vegetables, except beans and peas.

She identified mushrooms’ other nutritional values as Lysine, essential amino acids, soya and yeast; significant amount of Vitamin C and minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium and phosphorous in addition to folic acid abound in it.

NAN reports that though mushrooms were devoid of Vitamin A, they make up for that with their high riboflavin, thiamin and cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12) content, the latter usually found only in animal products. (NAN)