CLARK, PAMPANGA, March 22, 2006
 (MALAYA) Mushroom farming in Clark, Pampanga has proven to be a very profitable livelihood venture, according to the Community Extension Services Office of the Clark Development Corporation (CESO-CDC).

Pampanga couple Bong and Fanny Sicat, who were singled out as recipients of a mushroom growing pilot project of the CDC in Barangay Calumpang, recently sold more than 400 kilos of mushroom cultivated in just six months from an approximately 50-square meter plantation. The P4,000-venture was part of a livelihood outreach program of the CDC.

According to CDC president Antonio R. Ng, harvests from the small mushroom plantation in Barangay Calumpang are being sold to Mabalacat market at a wholesale price of P100 per kilo and P150 on retail.

Ng said the recipients of the livelihood project can now earn an average of P8,000 per month. From part of the couple’s earnings from the mushroom project, Bong Sicat had been able to buy a tricycle that would bring the produce to the Mabalacat public market. With the assistance of the Rotary Club Clarkfield, the mushrooms are now also being marketed to Korea House Restaurant and Four Seasons Restaurant, both located in Clark.

CESO Manager Fely Rondollo said the project started only on June 4 last year, with the Sicats as the initial recipients of the start-up project. Two weeks later, more than 19 kilos of mushroom were harvested from a single plot of a five-plot row.

After conducting a research on the profitability of growing mushrooms, Rondollo said the CESO allowed the release of P4,000 taken from the savings in a feeding program, as a non-interest loan to the couple to start the livelihood project in Barangay Calumpang.

In just three months, the recipients of the livelihood project were able to return in full the P4,000, and the additional P1,000 also loaned to them to bankroll a parallel cashew nut project that is another livelihood venture of the couple.

With the success of the mushroom project and a growing market in Pampanga, Ng instructed CESO to replicate the success in Calumpang by conducting another livelihood project study for the residents of Sitio Target in Barangay Sapang Bato in Angeles City which has about three hectares of uncultivated flat lands.

The CESO study had shown that if the areas could be turned into a mushroom plantation, 15 families could easily earn about P10,000 a month because of the rising demand for mushrooms in Pampanga and nearby provinces, including Metro Manila.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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