A local farmer has succeeded in growing Brazil mushrooms, or Agaricus blazei Murill, in a mountainous township in Chiayi County, agricultural sources said yesterday.
The farmer, surnamed Wang, began to grow Brazil mushrooms in a greenhouse in Chiayi County's Meishan township on Taipingshan eight months ago with technical assistance from a National Chunghsing University research team.
Wang said he has harvested his initial crop, which is being sold at NT$1,670 per kilogram.
According to Wang, the Chung-hsing University research team has tested his crop and has verified it as being Brazil mushrooms.
The Brazil mushroom is an increasingly popular health food. It is rich in polysaccharides, which can enhance the immune system and can also be used in the production of cancer-fighting drugs.
At 1,200m above sea level, Wang said, Meishan's natural climate is similar to the Brazil mushroom's natural habitat in Brazil.
"The gaps in daytime and nighttime temperatures are wide in Meishan and afternoon thunderstorms are common in summer. These climatic features are similar to the mushroom's natural habitat," Wang explained.
He built a 200-ping greenhouse, the floor of which is covered with specially treated soil, for the mushrooms. In the process, Wang said, he found that thunder and lightning is helpful to Brazil mushroom growth.
"I found that the mushrooms tended to grow faster whenever there was thunder and lightning and that they would stop growing if anybody touched their stems," Wang said.
In the past, only imported dried Brazil mushrooms or liquid extracts were available in Taiwan. Wang said the local demand for fresh Brazil mushrooms is very high. At the moment, he said, his harvest remains limited, but production will increase in the near future.