There are unused resources for growing mushrooms in Serbia

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The Minister, in charge of the regional development of Serbia, Milan Krkobabic, said that there are unused resources in Serbia for the production of mushrooms in controlled conditions, his cabinet announced.
Answering the questions of the returnees, he said with academician Dragan Skoric, and after consultations with an expert in that field, Ivanka Milenkovic, that investing in mushroom production can be a profitable business.
“On the way to good earnings, our hosts should unite in specialized mushroom cooperatives, where they will have a real chance to process mushrooms and conquer the European and world market with small likable packages,” said Krkobabic, who is also co-president of the National Rural Revival Team Of Serbia.
He added that “only united farmers will be able to buy a dehydrator easier and faster, which will help them extend the shelf life of mushrooms, choose a buyer and do not depend on buyers and resellers.”
According to Ivanka Milenkovic’s estimate, 3,500 to 4,000 tons of mushrooms are produced annually in Serbia.
According to the Institute for Nature Protection of Serbia, in 2017, thanks to good weather conditions, 9,441 tons of mushrooms were collected from nature, and in 2018 9,203 tons, which is three times more than in 2015, when only 2,896 were collected.
In the period from 2015 to 2019, Serbia exported mushrooms worth about 5.2 million euros a year on average to the markets of Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
The largest share in exports has mushrooms that are collected from nature, namely: chanterelles fresh and chilled, mushrooms fresh, chilled and dried.
During 2017, Serbia exported 3,647 tons to Russia alone and collected 4.3 million euros, mostly by exporting mushrooms of the genus Agaricus.
As it is stated, the import of mushrooms is incomparably smaller, Serbia annually imports about 20 tons of mushrooms.
In 2019, more than 70,000 euros were paid for the import of mushrooms, mushrooms of the genus Agaricus are mostly imported from Croatia, while chanterelles are imported from Bulgaria.
“The data that the export of Serbian mushrooms is as much as 75 times higher than the import seems optimistic,” Krkobabic said.
He added that the fact is that the largest part of exports from Serbia are mushrooms collected from nature, and that the quantity of these mushrooms varies drastically from year to year, depending on the weather conditions.
Boris Ivancevic, an advisor at the Natural History Museum of Serbia, said that in the 1980s, Yugoslavia was the largest exporter of dried mushrooms in the world, and most of them came from Serbia.
The most important species that are reported to be collected are: porcini, chanterelle, several species of royal jelly, black trumpet and spicy species of clove, and more and more truffles are being collected that can be produced in a semi-artificial way on plantations with special tree seedlings, whose the genus can be expected after 8-10 years.
Ivancevic said that collecting mushrooms from nature for commercial purposes cannot ensure the existence of an agricultural farm, primarily due to variations in quantities that can be collected in different years, as well as variations in their prices.
Mushroom expert Ivanka Milenkovic, who heads the educational and production center “Eco fungi” in Padinska Skela, said that a four-member agricultural farm in Serbia can have sustainable mushroom production on an area of at least 400 square meters, for which it is necessary to invest around 67,000 euros.
Milenkovic estimated that it is realistic to expect a return on the invested money in about three years.
According to the calculation of the Institute of Agricultural Economics (IEP), the variable costs in the production of mushrooms are 19.79 euros per square meter, while the total income is 41.38 euros per square meter, and the gross salary is 21.59 euros per square meter, which covers an area of 400 square meters, amounts to 8,636 euros.
Academician Skoric expressed satisfaction that the educational and production center “Eco fungi” has established cooperation with the UN Fund at the University of Tokyo, “which is a good example of a combination of science and practice for current and future mushroom growers.”
The national team for the revival of Serbian villages called on returnees and all other interested citizens to invest in mushroom production, to establish an agricultural farm and to join specialized cooperatives for growing mushrooms.
As it is stated, the cooperatives will be able to apply for incentive funds within the project “500 cooperatives in 500 villages”, and for those interested, expert visits will be organized to successful mushroom production centers, with advice on how to join the cooperative, Danas reports.