He was a 16-year full time teacher in SJK (C) Kok Wah Talibong, Tamparuli but decided to call it quits to become a full time mushroom farmer.
Meet Shiny Soon. He now runs Cendawan Cerah, a 3,600 sq ft mushroom farm near the Tamparuli bridge.
With a steady 5-figure income these days, he intends to expand his business into the F&B downstream sector.
Who would have thought that there was a market demand for mushrooms in Sabah?
Honestly, Shiny Soon, 37, did not think so either.
But he figured that there was a gap to be filled. So, he dove head first into the mushroom business in 2014.
He started part time, travelling back and forth between SJK (C) Kok Wah Talibong where he taught science, and Cendawan Cerah situated in Kampung Botoi, just nearby Tamparuli bridge.
He would check in on the farm before and after school hours.
After a juggling two jobs for five years, he decided to call it quits on teaching. Now he considers himself a fulltime agropreneur.
He owns two grow houses of about 1,800 sq ft each, and each growhouse can hold up to 5,000 mushroom grow bags.
If both grow houses are packed, Shiny will be able to produce 30-40kg of mushrooms per day.
Wholesale grey oyster mushrooms fetch up to RM14 per kg, while wholesale white mushrooms are between RM8-RM10 per kg.
Do the maths. 40kg x RM14 = RM560 a day. RM560 x 30 days = RM16,800
Even more amazing, Shiny is now experimenting with deerhorn lingzhi cultivation.
The woody mushroom species is a highly sought after medicinal herb and can fetch prices of up to RM800 per kg in countries like Taiwan and China.
At present, Shiny supplies his mushrooms to local supermarkets and restaurants. But he said that his business strategy would soon change to include downstream ventures.
“For the grey and white oyster mushrooms, I have the idea of packaging it as fried mushroom snacks, whereas lingzhi can be processed to make packaged tea or coffee,” he said.
“I’d even like to open my farm up for agro-tourism one day. I imagine kids coming in here to pluck mushrooms and then bringing the fresh mushrooms to a steamboat table for the whole family to enjoy.”
Farm-to-table steamboat, anyone?