A seafarer in Dagupan City admitted that mushroom farming has helped provide his family’s income while he was not on board vessels overseas during the pandemic.

In a Philippine News Agency interview on August 20, 2020, Ricky Calaguin said he started growing mushrooms in January this year even before the lockdown.

Top photo: MUSHROOM FARMING BUSINESS. Ricky Calaguin, a seafarer who opted not to go back to work onboard a ship, finds income in mushroom production during the pandemic. Calaguin’s mushroom business includes fruiting bags and other mushroom products. (Photo courtesy of Ricky Calaguin’s Facebook account)

Calaguin said his wife and three children have developed more products made from mushrooms, such as crispy mushroom chicharon, puto (native cake) with mushroom, mushroom tempura, and sisig.

“Natuto po ako sa pagpapalago ng mushroom sa isa ko rin pong kasamahan sa barko na tulad ko rin pong gusto ng mag for good mahirap kasi mag barko (I have learned to grow mushroom from a colleague who is also planning to quit from being a seafarer since it is not an easy job),” he said.

He said the family mushroom farming business has brought benefits during the lockdown, as there are no other available jobs during the coronavirus.

“Actually po wala sa plano ko ang pagpasok sa negosyong mushroom pero nong nasubukan ko unti-unti kung minahal kasi nakita ko at naramdaman na ok po siya at nag eenjoy po ako hilig ko rin po kasi magtanim (It was not in my plan to be engaged in mushroom business but when I tried it, I slowly get to love it because I saw and felt its potential and I also enjoy doing it since I really like planting),” he added.

Calaguin said he hopes to expand the business to cover most of the family’s expenses.

“At present, we only earn PHP5 for each fruiting bag, and each fruiting bag needs one to two weeks to produce a fully ramified fruiting bag,” he added.

Calaguin said he plans to seek support from national government agencies to grow the business.

Calaguin said his last employment onboard a ship was last September and is undecided yet whether to return to overseas work due to the pandemic.

“Dapat po sana February po nakabalik na po ako pero ayaw ko na po talaga po kasi hirap po talaga sa barko. Bawat minuto, nakapusta po ang buhay mo kaya tityagain ko na lang po ito (I was supposed to return to work in February this year, but I refused to do so because it is difficult to be on board a ship as every minute of our lives we are at risk that’s why I will just put my effort in our mushroom business),” he added.

Calaguin used to work at a tanker ship. (Hilda Austria, PNA)