By Moneeb Junior
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Islamabad organized two days National Mushroom Festival in collaboration with Agri Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan and Agri Education Pakistan. The event was organized on April 10-11. Mushroom Hunting Tour was arranged on the first day in Ghora Gali, Murree, in which participants are trained how to hunt and identify edible and non-edible mushrooms by Mr. Akhlaq Khan Kakar, working as Mushrooms Specialist for 25 years. Mushrooms hunting was carried out on 6km track, participants enjoyed scenic natural beauty along mushroom hunting.
Mushroom is high in protein, richest in folic acid, fat free cholesterol free, sodium free, good source of potassium but in Pakistan it cannot become the part of our food as compare the other part of the world. In Pakistan more than 90% people are not aware about the mushroom as food and its taste. If any mushroom lover wants to grow it they have no idea for spawn and its technical know how, if anybody gets spawn and grow it successfully then they have no idea where to sell it. Mushroom festival provides an excellent opportunity to participants raise awareness about practical growing technology of mushroom domestic and commercial level.
“Mushrooms Cultivation & Cooking Workshop” was organized on the second day at Pakistan Museum of Natural History. Mr. Akhlaq Khan (Mushroom culture expert), Mr. Tariq Tanveer (CEO, ATDC), Dr. Shehzad Basra (UAF) and Dr. Shiekh Iqbal (Haripur University) shared their experience and views regarding mushroom culture. Mr. Tariq Tanveer stressed on the adaptation of the Agri. Tourism and mushroom culture as a new industry in the country while the Dr. Shehzad suggested introducing innovations in the efficient mushroom culture. Mushroom pickle was introduced first time in Pakistan by Mr. Zain ul Abideen. A mushroom cooking competition was also held among the participants. Prizes were distributed among the winners.
The closing session was presided over by Dr. Akram Shiekh (Acting Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation) along with Dr. M. K. Leghari (D.G, PMNH), Mr. Tariq Tanveer (CEO, ATDC) and Dr. Shiekh Iqbal. Dr. Akram Shiekh appreciated the organizing team for their efforts to make the event simply successful and expressed his desire to keep the National Mushroom Festival as the iconic event of the PMNH and to organize it as an annual activity. It is a best way to promote the mushroom industry and spread the message of its importance, said the Chairman, PSF. Dr. Ismail the chief organizer of the event highly appreciated both by the participants and the competent authorities for his keen interest and hard work to provide such an awesome family entertaining and educational opportunity. At the end of the event the chairman PSF and the D.G. PMNH presented the souvenir to the guest speakers and the heads of the co-organizer parties.
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