YAP Proposal #11: “Mushroom Farming” (Melano Dadalauri, Georgia)

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“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward”

My name is Melano Dadalauri, I’m 25 years old and from Georgia. Agriculture and regional development is very important for my country. However, nowadays, Georgia’s agricultural sector faces many challenges. For example, there is the issue of rural depopulation. Agriculture is the least preferred sector for many youth, as the sector is currently too unproductive. Notably, the main source of income for rural population is derived from agriculture sector.

– This is the main reason why I have decided in my age to become an entrepreneur.

My roots lie in the rural areas as well. I temporarily ceased the connection with our village when I moved to the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi to study at the university. However, when I graduated the university, I knew that I wanted to do something good for the development of agriculture sector through entrepreneurship – in order to be an example, inspire others and help create normal living conditions for the rural population.

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The main reason of high level of poverty in the country is the fact that agriculture sector in Georgia is not yet modernized. The number of farming organizations are few and they’re not able to enjoy the benefits of economics of scale nor compete with imported produce.

So I started by growing mushrooms in a home. I already had the space for the greenhouse, so I was able to start up my business with just 200$. When I speak with the rural population, I often hear that millions are needed to to start a business. I wanted to prove that it was not so, and actually began to work with my bare hands. Through hard work and dedication, slowly my business began to expand. From my first profits, I was able to purchase more equipment to equip my hothouse even better. For example, this year we improved the heating and cooling systems. This is a big step forward, as mushrooms are very sensitive to temperature, humidity and air accumulated with nitrogen.

Since, then, different organizations and media helped me to promote my business. As a result, we received a great response and dozens of people throughout the country began the mushroom cultivation. People realized that they could build up a business, even with limited capital. We also had meetings with students and pupils in the regions. I am convinced that children should start thinking about entrepreneurship from a young age.

For example at my local market in the Kakheti region of Georgia, there is a high demand for mushrooms, whilst the supply is very low. Certain people grow mushrooms at home, but at a low quality. This is partly because growing mushrooms is not an easy process. For example, it is hard to regulate temperature and pressure while boiling the substrate. Also, it is hard to control and sustain the sterilization, to prevent the creation of unwanted bacteria in the substrate.

We recently received a small grant from the Ministry of Economy to improve our cooling and heating systems. A boiling pot for substrate would allow us to further maximize profits for myself and my fellow mushroom growers.

A 5,000$ grant will allow me purchase a pot for substrate preparation, as well as tools and equipment for the water heater. This allow me to produce large amounts of substrate at the same time, which will reduce production costs and increase productivity. Lastly, it will allow me to sell used sacks of substrate to other producers in my region. In other words, both myself and my neighbours would profit.

Even more importantly perhaps, I am very keen on building links with agricultural entrepeneurs from other countries at GCARD3. I am convinced that my participation in GCARD3 would be widely covered by Georgian media. This would further support the idea that in Georgia and elsewhere, agriculture offers a real perspective to ambitious young people from any background.

Blogpost and pictures submitted by Melano Dadalauri (Georgia) – melano.dadalauri(at)yahoo.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #11 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

As a reader, you can support this speaker’s entry:

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Have a look at the other “YAP” proposals too!
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“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.


1,162 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #11: “Mushroom Farming” (Melano Dadalauri, Georgia)

  1. Hello Melano,

    it’s a great proposal!
    I am glad you are so motivated and wish you success. You are the example of rural population.

    thank you very much and good luck.

    Robert Maier

    1. Dear Melano,

      thank you for being motivator for many other young people. What would be you advice for inexperienced beginners in the business?

      Good luck
      Tatia Tavkhelidze

      1. Dear Tatia,
        Beginners in the business should know that they need much time and energy for the business, so they have to choose something they like very much.

        Best Regards,
        Melano

    2. Hi Melano! hope it all goes well for you… I’m the founder of the “Art-Gene” festival and this year the message, or a slogan of our festival is: “Back to the land!” or ” დაუბრუნდეთ სოფელს!” … Therefore we greet and support your new beginning and wish you all the luck!!!

  2. Dear Melano,
    I am very thankful of you. You take care about our village very much. Everybody said to me, that they want to support you, but as you know only few people have internet and they don’t use social media yet.

    Many votes to you from our village.

    with love
    Nino Amashukeli

  3. Hi, Melano,

    Yes, many people say that even agri. start-up needs huge amount of money. Even my family wished to make mushroom farm. And this idea is still actual. May we to contact you, purchase some seeds and if possible, get guidelines and suggestions?

    Good luck in this project.
    Regards,
    Rusa

  4. Hello Melano,
    May I ask you for the consultation. Let me add you on Facebook, please.

    I want to cultivate mushroom as well ad I need some tips. I have started, but I found out it is very difficult.

    Best Wishes,
    Giorgi

  5. Melano, Hello !
    I don’t know you but want to wish you good luck! Well done. It was very good idea to make agricultural business.
    Maybe in future i will be able to do my own.
    Best regards!

  6. On behalf of YPARD Georgian chapter, we wish you success in this public competition. You are motivated, enthusiastic, and a good example for other young people in Georgia.

    All the best wishes

    YPARD Georgia supports you!

    1. Dear Tolige,

      It depends on some main factors : such as humidity, temperature etc. if the summer is very hot and winter very cold and you have not special hothouse, you can grow mushrooms in Spring and Autumn

      Best Regards,
      Melano

      1. Hello Maka,
        Yes, of course you can regulate the temperature by cooling system. But in August it is very hot and the price of mushrooms is low, that’s why If you don’t cultivate big amount of mushrooms it does not worth to produce.

        Best Regards,
        Melano

  7. I wish you every succes in your job. your Achievements is our country’s Achievements.
    good luck.

    David from Georgia.

  8. Dear Melano
    As a chairwoman of Georgian Farmers Association i have to say that I am very proud of you! Young people like you will develop georgian agriculture and will motivate others not to migrate from villages and create agri businesses there! A lot of success to you!

  9. Melano is a careful and creative thinker with an eye for details and a devotion to logic, which serves her well both in the sciences and outside them.

    She has the terrific ability to draw on her own experience and observations to develop thoughtful opinions on a variety of issues.

    ❤ Good Luck my dear ❤

  10. Melano is without question, one of the four or five most understanding students I have taught at the State University.

  11. Dear Jury,
    Melano is not only an excellent student, but she is also personally delightful.
    She is as comfortable with herself as she is engaging, pleasant, and humorous.
    She can achieve everything she wants.
    Best Wishes,
    Tatjana

  12. Dear peter,

    Thank you very much for a great competition.
    I would strongly recommend Melano Dadalauri to your program.

    During the time I have known Melano Dadalauri as my student at Ilia State University she distinguished herself as a creative, problem solving person and a good analytical thinker.

    Good Luck Melano,
    I am proud of you!
    Marine

  13. Dear Melano, Great Proposal!!! You were our distinguished student and sure you will be successful in all endeavors you undertake! Good luck and accept my full support to your proposal.

  14. HI
    IT MAKES MY INTEREST WHICH KIND OF PRODUCT ARE U PRODUCING ? CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS TOPIC , I AM PRODUCING SPECIAL MILK , IT IMPROVES BRAIN WORKING SKILLS , WE SHOULD SHARE SOME INFORMATIONSS

    1. Dear Rostom,
      Thank you very much for your questions.
      I am cultivate the oyster mushrooms.
      Mushrooms are very easy to grow and are now becoming a very lucrative, simple home-grown business. Oyster mushrooms are some of the easiest and cold hardy mushrooms to grow.
      I will try your milk with pleasure. maybe on Sunday ❤
      where are you producing the milk?

      Best Regards,
      Melano

  15. Dear Peter,

    I have some question: 1. where can we see how many views the blogpost have?
    2. How many time may we Spread this post via our social media channels, using the hashtag: #GCARD3 ?
    3. May one person comment more then once? does it counts when the author reply the comments?

    1. Hi Teo,

      – You can not see how many times your post was viewed, we can see it as administrators for the blog.
      – You can spread your post to as many social media channels, and as many times as you like.
      – One person can only comment once (and we do keep track of it, from the administrator’s account. It does count when the author replies to any of the comments (as we want to stimulate an active discussion around the blogposts)

      best,

      Peter

  16. Hello Melano,

    You will win this competition :* we believe in you ❤ good luck.

    Now I want to start the business 🙂

  17. Hello Melano,

    I know you are leading some training, I will be very glad if you visit to our school and meet the pupils.

    I look forward to your answer.

    Dariko

  18. Hello Melano,

    My organization is organizing the conference about entrepreneurship on Sunday, Let me invite If you find a spare time, it will be very useful for your business.

    Best Regards,
    Irakli Gogsadze

  19. Hello Melano,
    Good luck,
    I am interested in if you have the links with other mushroom farming companies ?

    Best
    Robert Grabmeier

  20. Hello Melano,

    Are you growing only oyster mushroom? are you planning to cultivate other kinds of mushrooms? if you not, why?

    Best regads,
    NIna Caiser

  21. Hello Peter,

    How many participants will be selected from 20?

    I wish you success Melano,
    I like you are trying much.

    Love you.
    From Armenia

    1. Hi Astrigt, the amount of finalist (2nd selection) will depend on the funding we are able to raise from the donors.
      We are shooting at “at least 10”. But the more donors we can attract, the more people we can integrate in the program.

      Best,
      Peter

  22. Dear Melano!

    I wish you all the best! You are very beauty and smart girl! I like you and your ideas!
    I belive you! I am proud of you Melano!
    Good luck, My cool Leader!!!

  23. Dear Melano,

    you are more then hope for Georgian Agriculture, in the country where there is almost 50% of selfemployment, small project but profitable for there families is so much needed

    Good Luck and many smiles every day 7 times atleast ;)))

    Beka

  24. The best Idea 🙂 wish you success.
    What was the last picture you took with your phone? I love this question, that’s why I want to ask you 🙂 was it mushroom?

    1. Hello Stepane,

      I have started cultivating the mushrooms about 2 years ago, in Telavi. When I am in Tbilisi, my father takes care about it, but as my father has many things to do, I used to visit Telavi very often and stay there.

      Best Regards,
      Melano

    1. Hello Saba,
      Oyster mushrooms are one of the easiest exotic mushrooms to grow. They can grow in about six weeks’ time. They’re fairly easy to grow, they grow quickly, and they can make you good money.

      Best Regards,
      Melano

    1. Hello Giorgi,

      There are two ways you can get your spawn:
      You can make your own using a sterile culture. In the long run, this can be less costly, but the start-up costs can be very high.
      Instead, consider buying ready-to-inoculate spawn from a supplier.

      Best Regards,
      Melano Dadalauri

    1. Hello Tea,

      Your incubation room will need to be at a certain temperature to help your mushrooms get off to a great start. It should be no less then 14 degree and no more than 24 degree.

      Best Regards,
      Melano

    1. Hello Ani,

      Make sure any surfaces that come into contact with your straw, spawn or eventual mushrooms are clean.
      Wipe down and disinfect all surfaces. Spray a 10% bleach solution in the air.
      Seal off any drafts using weather-stripping or caulk.
      And finally, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling any substances.
      Best Regards,
      Melano

    1. Hello Tamta,

      Give out free samples of your oyster mushrooms. This is how you’ll be able to sell to grocery stores and restaurants. They’ll want to taste your mushrooms before buying them.

      If a grocery store allows, put on demonstrations. Handing out free samples of your oyster mushrooms is a great way to increase business.

      I wish you success,

      Best Regards,
      Melano

    1. Hello Liana,
      Growers usually use straw. Some opt for wood chips.
      Straw is generally the better option, because you can find it at most feed stores for a reasonable price.

      Best Regards,
      Melano

    1. Hello Mariam,

      Your oyster mushrooms will be at their best when they are fresh. That’s when you want to sell them.

      If you can’t sell them right away, freeze or dry them to sell later. Freezing or drying enables you to sell your oyster mushrooms days or months in the future.

      Best Regards,

      Melano

  25. You are great girl Melano. Because you are so young and so smart. Love your village and your country. Best of luck. We are proud of you ❤❤❤

  26. It not only takes brains and experience, but courage and strength
    You definitely have all those traits and more to help you succeed
    keep going
    best,
    Tamo

  27. For enterprising businessmen like you, every obstacle presents an opportunity which is new. Good luck for your business.

  28. Whether you have profits, whether you have losses – when you come home you will always have my hugs and kisses. Good luck for the business
    ❤ ❤ ❤

  29. Most people in this world run after a higher pay, better perk or bigger promotion. You are courageous enough to run after your dream and passion. Good luck for your new business.

  30. Every dreamer is not a doer and every doer is not a dreamer. You have the deadly combination of being a dreamer and a doer. Good luck for your business. ❤ 🙂

  31. As you start a new business, I wish that failure is behind you, success is in front of you and luck is by your side, so good Luck ❤

  32. Hello Melano,
    Real businessmen know that you cannot be successful by chance. Success is a result of courageous choices based on an enterprising vision and good business ethics.

    best wishes,
    Jana

  33. Initiative, Inventiveness, Influence, Ingenuity, Integrity and Ideas – you have all the I’s that will help you say I will be successful.

  34. It doesn’t matter that you are setting up a home business. What matters is that you are going to bring home happiness with your professional success. Good luck mate.

  35. Some people get complacent with their permanent jobs and keep working until they retire. Some people are focused and career oriented and motivated enough to switch jobs for better pay and better opportunities. But very few people like you are brave enough to step out o the comfort zone in an attempt to create business and a legacy. Congratulations and good luck. ❤

  36. A new business is like a new baby – you have to give it birth, nurture it, feed it and grow it until it begins to function by itself. Good luck Melano with your new baby.

  37. Thanks for sharing 🙂 lovely mushrooms.
    I have my yellow oyster spawn growing on spaghnum moss over a clay in a bell jar style terrarium with just a tiny air gap, and I’ve seen mycelium growing directly over the spawn after only 2days!! But so far only growing on the more shaded side of the jar

    1. Hello Mari,

      Yes, it is.
      As an employee, you were prepared to stay in office until late night. As an entrepreneur, you will have to be prepared to spend the whole night in office.

      Best Reards,
      Melano Dadalauri

  38. You are special not because you were in a good position in your previous job, but because you had the guts to leave and face destiny right in the eye by becoming an entrepreneur. Good luck.

    Best Regards,
    Mariami

  39. I don’t know about you, but I have a gut feeling that you are about to meet two new people in your life whose names are Success and Riches. Good luck for your new business Melano.

  40. Entrepreneurs don’t wait for chances, they create them – just like you did. Good luck for your new venture. ❤ Good Luck Melano :*

  41. Dear Melano, enthusiasm is absolutely necessary ,if you want to accomplish anything of value, so I want to ask you several questions: 1)How can you build this incredible enthusiasm with stillness? 2)what keeps your enthusiasm so high? 3)And the last one ,if the reality slaps us in the face,what is your kind of medcine against it?

    1. Dear Ani,

      Thank you very much for the Questions :
      1. You can do anything if you love what you do.
      2. hope for the better future. I wanna be a changemaker and have a positive impact on community 3. There is not a medicine however, my philosophy of life is to “NEVER GIVE UP” keep fighting and keep moving on.

      Best Regards,
      Melano

      1. Well,you know sometimes you just find yourself in the right place at the right time and it feels like a lucky break.I want to find out your views on the importance of luck. 1)How much luck do u need in business? Do you think that you are lucky? 2)Is there anyone who inspires you in yiur job ? Thanks for your answers :))

    2. Hello Ani,
      1. In the business world, if you have luck people think you are good. If I am unlucky, it’s very hard to be successful no matter what I do. Fate and luck play a big role in business.

      Working smart and hard is part of the success, too.
      2. It’s me father 🙂

      best,
      Melano

    1. Hello Maka,
      You can see also this article in English :

      “In order to further develop and expand her business the young lady farmer has taken part in a project carried out by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the world’s agricultural research for development community working together to transform and strengthen agri-food research and innovation systems. In particular, the project named “YAP” (Youth Agripreneurs Project ) aims to select young agripreneurs from all over the world, and provide a seed fund ,5000 USD grant, to facilitate the startup of their project. During one year, selected young agripreneurs will be mentored within their project, linking them with seasoned researchers and practitioners, by
      integrating them in the YPARD (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development) mentoring program. In addition, the participants of the project will undergo training on new ways to advocate and network using innovative communication tools.”

      The agripreneurs will be selected through the comments, likes and views their projects accumulate. The deadline of the competition is on March 13, 2016

      see the article here : http://www.georgianjournal.ge/business/32268-young-entrepreneur-aims-to-develop-georgias-agricultural-sector.html

      There are also some articles, news and interviews about YAP in Georgian

      Best Reards,
      Melano Dadalauri

    1. Hello Tamta,

      Thank you for the question.
      Oyster Mushrooms are not just tasty, they are really healthy too…

      The health benefits of Oyster mushrooms have been enjoyed in cuisine for thousands of years. Not only are they low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and very low in sodium. They are also high in protein, fibre and iron, and contain significant levels of zinc, potassium, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, folic acid, and vitamins B1, B3, B5 and B12, plus vitamin C and vitamin D.

      Best Regards,

      Melano

      1. Well, yes you’re right !
        But the benefits don’t end there. Recent studies have shown that Oyster mushrooms also have cholesterol lowering, anti-oxidant and even anti-cancer properties

      2. That’s true Tamta,

        Oyster mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a unique antioxidant exclusively produced by fungi, according to a 2010 study led by Penn State food scientist Joy Dubost. The study found that oyster mushrooms have significant antioxidant properties that protect cells in the body. A 3 oz. serving of oyster mushrooms contains 13 milligrams of ergothioneine, and cooking the mushrooms does not reduce this level.

    2. Oyster mushrooms have also significant antibacterial activity, according to a 1997 study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.” The study found that the active compound benzaldehyde reduces bacterial levels. It may form on the mushroom as a reaction to stress.

  42. Melano, this is a wonderful initiative. I wish other young minds of Georgia follow your steps and support the development of AG sector in Georgia! You are truly an inspiration. How many people are now currently involved in your business and what’s the profit? How do you see its dynamics after you receive the grant?

    1. Ninutsa, Thank you very much for your great words.

      Now there are 4-5 people involved in my business.
      After I receive the grant my profit will increase with 150%. Because we can sell much made sacks, nowadays we can do only limited quantity for us not for selling. But demand is high and people need it

      Best Regards,
      Melano

  43. Hello Melano,
    Where do I find market research and competitor information for my plan?
    Best Regards, Kaxa
    ai es samive daakopire da chawere,

    1. Market research can identify market trends, demographics, economic shifts, customer’s buying habits, and important information on competition. You will utilize this information to define your target markets and establish a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    1. Hello Nini,

      Keep the growing area at around 78 degrees F. Places the bags on a shelving unit. Remember to stop any threats of natural light getting into the room. Cover windows and cracks. Use a red “darkroom” light when you need to check on your bags. When you start to notice tiny pinhead mushrooms near the air holes in your bag, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.

    1. Hi Anamaria,

      Restaurants are big buyers of mushrooms. Talk to some local restaurants, and see if they might be interested in your exotic mushrooms. Hand out free samples to chefs. Most chefs love oyster mushrooms for the delicious taste, and the fact that they “pair” well with many foods.

  44. If I were you I would change my life becouse u are best start up! U have a great chance and I trust you, that it’s done by you.

    1. Hello Tatia,

      Through preliminary market research, you might find an opportunity to start your business in a geographic location you had not considered before, where little or no competition exists for your product or service.

      Best Reards,

      Melano

    1. Hello Nino,
      There are several markets where it is relatively easy to name every competitor. These are concentrated markets where only a handful of competitors exist. If this is the scenario for your product or service, you will need to develop an analysis for each competitor. The steel industry and automobile industry are examples of these types of markets.

      If you are selling in a market with many competitors, your job of analyzing the competition becomes a little more difficult. Since it is unrealistic to collect and maintain information on dozens of competitors, you will be able to save yourself valuable time, without sacrificing the integrity of your competitive analysis.

      Best Regards,
      Melano

    1. Dear Tatia,

      You’re going to devote a lot of time and energy to starting a business and building it into a successful enterprise, so it’s really important that you truly deeply enjoy what you do, whether it be running fishing charters, creating pottery or providing financial advice.

    2. Being employed while you’re starting a business means money in your pocket while you’re going through the starting a business process.
      So, start your business while you’re still employed.

    3. You need a support system while you’re starting a business (and afterwards). A family member or friend that you can bounce ideas off and who will listen sympathetically to the latest business start up crisis is invaluable.

  45. Hello Melano !

    You are an example for mi.
    Is it dificult planting marshrooms et home?
    I wish you saccess !

  46. Melano, love your idea and wish you all the success. Hope you will become a winner.

    Just one question – is market for mushroom growing in Georgia and thus would be able sell products you produce?

    1. Hello Kahka,

      Thank you very much for your support.

      There is big market in Georgia and demand on the mushroom is high. If I increase my produce it will not be problem to sell the mushrooms.

  47. I think Melano is a kind of person,which gives us very good example, how to be successful enterpriser at early age, Georgia needs many Melano Dadalauri! This project really deserves to win!

    1. Thank you Guka very much for your support

      I am happy that you are studying at school and thinking about your own business .

      I know your plans and wish you success

      Best Regards,

      Melano

    1. Hello Teona,

      Thank you for your support.
      As we have very good marketing system every day more and more people know about our business and are interested in.

      1. First, I want to increase the amount of producing mushrooms,
      2. When I have a pot for substrate preparation I can sell the made sacks too
      3. when I have to other big markets in Georgia.

      Best Regards,
      Melano Dadalauri

  48. Dear Melano,

    What are the major challenges that you currently face in expanding your business?

    Good luck!

    1. Hello Aleksandre,
      The main challenge that I currently face is that I can not produce large amounts of substrate at the same time.
      Nowadays I can boil the substrate which is enough only for us. Other people want to grow mushrooms, but they can not boil the substrate, because they need special conditions.
      If I have a big pot for substrate preparation, it will reduce production costs and increase productivity. It will allow me to sell used sacks of substrate to other producers in my region. They can grow mushrooms themselves and have income.
      Both myself and my neighbours would profit.

      Best Regards,
      Melano Dadalauri

  49. Melano first of I wish you good luck in your startup. I have question regarding interests from investors and competitors on the market. What are the main risks in this business? Do you work on involving investments and how do you attract investors considering risks, and how do you compete with other suppliers of the product?

    1. How can I ever thank you enough.
      The main risk in my business is lack of time, but Now I am fully involved. Because when I start something I want to do it well. There are only some suppliers and they are small home farmings.

    1. Hello Mariam,

      Oyster mushroom can be cultivated on any kind of dried agricultural waste like wheat or paddy straw, maize, jowar or bajra waste or wastes from oil seeds or leguminous crops

    1. Hello Demetre,

      After the mycelial growth on straw, bags are to be exposed for fruiting and high humidity (75-80 %
      RH), fresh air and light (6-8 hours) it requires for fruiting.
      best,
      Melano

  50. A venture entrepreneurship has a positive effect on a country’s economy. I wish you to continue this enterprise. I believe your effort will have a positive outcome and you can your dreams come true. I wanna wish you success and good luck!

  51. <