Humpty Dumpty Institute Reaches Milestones for
“Mushrooms with a Mission” Program in Vietnam
April 10, 2013 - For Immediate Release
New York – The Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) is pleased to announce that the “Mushrooms with a Mission” program has recently reached several major milestones including record sales of mushrooms, a doubling in the number of participating farming families, and a tenfold increase in the program’s capacity to cultivate mushrooms. "Mushrooms with a Mission" is a joint program of HDI and Project RENEW that improves the economic and social status of disabled survivors of landmine accidents, female-headed households and ethnic groups in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province. This unique program provides communities with the tools and training necessary to grow and sell a variety of mushroom species including linh chi, wood ear, oyster and shiitake. Major funders of the program are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
The most noteworthy milestone will be reached in June when proceeds from the sale of mushrooms and spawn are expected to exceed $50,000 for the first six months of 2013. The program’s first season producing linh chi mushrooms will generate $30,000 in sales, in addition to another $12,000 in income from the production of wood ear and oyster mushrooms. The sale of spawn (mushroom seed) to mushroom farmers outside the program is projected to net an additional $8,000 during the first half of 2013. Generating over $50,000 in revenue after only six months is a major achievement for Mushrooms with a Mission. By comparison, for all of 2012, total revenue for the program was only $22,000.
Mushrooms with a Mission has also recently achieved another milestone by surpassing the 200 mark in the number of families participating in the program. By June 2013, a total of 79 new farming families will be part of the program. This will bring to 225 the total number of farming families in the program. At this rate of growth, HDI’s goal to expand the program to more than 1,000 families by 2015 is clearly within reach.
This growth in the number of farmers was made possible through the generosity of a group of concerned Vietnamese business women led by Madame Nguyen Cao Ky, widow of the former Vice President of the Republic of Vietnam. Madame Cao Ky’s associates funded the training of 30 new farming families in January who are now growing wood ear mushrooms in individual grow houses, which were also funded by this group. HDI has trained an additional 14 farming families to grow oyster mushrooms using a communal grow house approach, which is expected to be more cost-efficient and will serve as the focus for future expansion of the program.
Achievement of these milestones in terms of mushroom sales and the number of participating farmers has been made possible by the recent expansion of the Mushroom Center in Quang Tri. The Embassy of Japan in Hanoi provided funding for the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment that has allowed HDI and Project RENEW to dramatically expand the program’s capacity to cultivate mushrooms. Additional funding from MIVAC, an association of Australian Vietnam War veterans, has also made possible the construction of a special building to house this equipment. When completed next month, this new facility will allow the Mushroom Center to increase production of substrate blocks tenfold from 30,000 to more than 300,000 per month.
Another exciting development is that the program’s Mushroom Center has begun to work with some of Vietnam’s ethnic communities who live in the mountains at altitudes conducive to growing Shiitake mushrooms. For the first time, the program has produced blocks for the production of shiitake mushrooms and currently has 1,000 blocks under incubation. Fallen logs, the traditional growing medium for shiitake, have also been inoculated with shiitake spawn. Land mine survivors and their families among the Van Kieu and Pa Co ethnic minorities will comprise HDI’s "Shiitake Brigades".
Ralph L. Cwerman, President of HDI, said, "Each of these achievements allows us to expand the capacity of Mushrooms with a Mission to reach more people, and as a result fewer mine and UXO accident victims will be dependent on the charity of others. Our aim is for each farmer to attain a standard of living similar to his or her peers and earn sufficient income to become financially self-reliant and to invest our ‘profits’ toward UXO removal in Quang Tri."