The Johor Down Syndrome Association plans to buy 3,000 mushroom cultivation bottles before moving to expand its online presence to meet the high demand.
Association president Alpian Jamid said the programme started in September last year after the association was granted funding by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) under the Iskandar Malaysia Youth Empowerment Fund (IMPower) programme.
“We started with 1,500 cultivation bottles that were placed at our centre in Taman Bukit Indah.
“By October, we managed to harvest between 10 and 15kg of mushrooms.
“Each kilogramme is sold at RM16 to our friends and family, and this eventually opened up the market until demand outstripped supply, ” he said when contacted.
He said the association had received tremendous support and even the children’s families had started cultivating mushrooms at home.
Alpian explained that the 1,500 bottles were cultivated on a 20 x 20sq ft rack costing around RM2,000.
“The rack is managed by a teacher, together with one supervisor and five children.
“The mushrooms do not need a lot of space to be cultivated, it just needs a shady place.
“The parents of the children have been supportive of our effort and this has helped the association get through the movement control order, ” he said, adding that the additional 3,000 bottles had cost around RM9,000.
Alpian said the children also enjoyed spending time learning more about the mushroom cultivation project.
“The supervisor helps prepare the bottles and shows the teachers and children ways to manage and care for the mushrooms.
“The teacher will then monitor each child’s step in maintaining the bottles in terms of controlling the room temperature, harvesting, packaging, labelling and cleaning the rack, ” he explained.
StarMetro had earlier reported that the Johor government planned to emulate the mushroom farming project to extend help to associations for the disabled, for them to build a source of income to support their members.