Dr. Varun Kumar, Ph.D., the dean of biosciences at Shri Ram College in Muzaffarnagar, India, is participating in a post-doctoral program offered by Aloha Medicinals of Carson City.

Dr. Kumar is studying mushroom production techniques pioneered by Aloha Medicinals, a leader in the field of medicinal mushrooms.The area in India where Dr. Kumar lives is heavily dependent on agriculture, and he is looking to teach mushroom growing to the small farmers who dominate in the region. Using existing agricultural waste like straw and paper, mushroom farming can yield large quantities of high-protein food for humans and livestock, as well as fertilizer for other crops.

Aloha Medicinals awards 24 scholarships per year for post-doctoral research, and has brought scientists from Africa, Europe and Asia to Carson City to study advanced spawn-making and mushroom growing techniques. Dr. John Holliday, Chief Scientific Officer of Aloha Medicinals, said the program benefits both the students and the company via the exchange of ideas that takes place.

“The post-doc scholarship we run is the only one of its type in the world,” Holliday said.. “It teaches the advanced methods for producing spawn, which is the seed stock used to grow mushrooms. Our idea is to make spawn making techniques available to the third world, since mushrooms represent an idea way to convert agricultural waste like straw and sawdust into edible protein. With the expanding world population is becoming more important to optimize the production of food from any given area of agricultural land. Growing mushrooms allows a secondary crop to be produced from waste that would otherwise have to be disposed of.”