Mushroom cultivation transforming lives in Assam

January 6th, 2008 - 5:32 pm ICT by admin  

By Peter Alex Todd
Guwahati, Jan.6 (ANI): A non government organisation in Assam has given a new hope to the locals here by promoting mushroom cultivation as a new source of income for the people in Kamrup and Sonapur Districts.
Assamese, who are today well aware about distinguishing between the poisonous and non-poisonous mushroom, will soon become the cultivators of mushroom rather than its picker.
Mushroom Foundation or MDF, a non- governmental organization active in Kamrup and Sonapur Districts of the State, is educating people about the economic significance of mushroom in domestic as well as international market, besides teaching about cultivation methods.
Pranjal Baruah, GS, MDF, said: We are using mushroom as a tool. What we are trying to do is build-up the capacity of small farmers by opening up the collection and distribution system of planting material and finished products. Through this they will get the planting material at the minimum cost and best of the quality. At the same time, they send their produce through the same network of the farmer.”
Mushroom Foundation, the NGO, has carried out an awareness program in over 50 Assam villages involving over 1,000 individuals of both the genders, directly or indirectly for this new venture.
Besides, the Mushroom Foundation provides mushroom seeds, developed in their laboratory for a better yield.
Prashnna Diamary, a cultivator-cum-group leader-cum-trainer, said: We have involved some 1,000 people from 50 villages. The number of women is high. This is a very profitable business and I know this because I have also done it.”
It has also developed an additional source of income to the farming community by using the available agricultural wastes. People are more than happy to grow straw mushrooms, which are cultivated on a variety of agricultural wastes, especially rice straw.
Binita Kathar, a cultivator, said: If we do this, poor people will not have to go out of the house for daily labour. One can sit at home and earnthis will help to look after our children and we can do other works also. We usually throw away the paddy straws and now we can make use of it. I did it last year and I gained, I eat it at home and even sell it.”
In India, where 55 per cent of the households consume mushroom in their daily diet, the northeast region stands first with 60 per cent of the total consumption.
A farmer earning rupee one as profit margin on sale of a kilogram of straws can earn Rs. 480 on the sale of six kilogram of mushroom produced using the same one kilogram of straw as the raw material. (ANI)

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