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It took several years of loafing and odd jobs before Faiz Mansor, 23, found his niche growing oyster mushrooms.

Like many of his friends, Faiz set out into the world after completing his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination.

He moved to Kuala Lumpur to find a job, ending up as an operator in a food packaging factory, with a meagre salary.

Barely able to survive on his salary, he moved back to his family home in Kampung Datuk Ali, Chuping, after a year.

Discouraged and broke, he spent the next few years helping out in the family's padi field and taking up odd jobs.
But his luck changed when a family friend came along.

English teacher Ooi Guan Teck offered to guide Faiz in starting an oyster mushroom farm.

Being a regular visitor to the family, Ooi, who teaches at SK Sintok, Kedah, had known young Faiz for a long time.

"I was sceptical about growing mushrooms. But I decided to give it a try.

"Cikgu Ooi helped me build the mushroom farm from scratch.

"I owe Cikgu Ooi a lot. He taught me all about growing mushrooms without asking for a single sen," said Faiz.

After several months under Ooi's tutelage, Faiz began his own mushroom farm at the backyard of his home.

With the help of 15 of Ooi's pupils, Faiz began constructing his mushroom farm four years ago.

He started out with a single mushroom house, which is a wooden barn fully covered with plastic sheets to retain a cool temperature.

Now, Faiz has four mushroom houses, which produce up to 300kg of mushrooms on a good day.

He currently has four workers and his homemaker wife, Nur Alia Abdullah, 26, helps out with the farm work.

Faiz earns an average of RM5,000 a month from his oyster mushrooms, which he sells to wholesale markets in Kangar and Alor Star. He sells the mushrooms for between RM3 and RM4 per kg.

Growing a batch of oyster mushroom begins with preparing the compost, which consists of chipped rubber tree wood, calcium chloride and bran. The compost is steamed before the mushroom spawns, or seeds, are added.

This mixture is packed into tube-shaped plastic bags with holes punched on the top.

The oyster mushrooms would sprout out of the punched holes within days.

The fan of an oyster mushroom can reach up to 25cm in diameter.

"I never expected to earn a living growing mushrooms. My original ambition was to become a building contractor.

"But after three years of business, I have no regrets entering this field," said Faiz.

"I plan to market my mushrooms to Penang and Kuala Lumpur where they can fetch a higher price.

"In Perlis, local sellers face stiff competition from Thailand. That is why prices are very low here."


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