India’s ‘mushroom district’ reaps fruits of smart agri-revolution: wallets swell, barriers break
Pankaj Kumar | November 1, 2012
Her association with mushroom is limited to growing it — an association that’s reaping the benefits like no other cash crop, a nano-step a day.
Also read more Reports from Other India
“We can easily produce enough mushroom on a small patch of 1,200 square feet to earn Rs 5,000 to Rs 6000 per month,” Nirmala Devi of the same village says. Nirupa Devi would agree, almost to the proverbial T, that mushrooms are helping her fetch a decent life for her three children.
Little wonder, then, that the mundane button-like fruit of a fungus is writing a new script for the otherwise nondescript Saril Chak or neighbouring Raitar village in the district. In fact, Nalanda, India’s ancient seat of learning, is slowly acquiring a new status in millennium India: the “mushroom district”.
The result seems almost scripted by an average Bollywood fare: a typical happy ending, as Nalanda’s economy undergoes a radical change.
But before the end credits roll, this is the tale of a revolution in the making.
While the authorities, along with local-level activists and agricultural experts, go all out to popularise mushroom cultivation, farmers in the district are taking to new agricultural practices to bolster their economy. In Saril-Chak and Raitar, for instance, villagers have formed groups to educate farmers about the new practices known as Agriculture Technology Management Agency, or ATMA. About 15 groups, each comprising 15 members, are being trained in each village, with women in the lead.
In all, 22 villages are into mushroom cultivation in Nalanda, with nearly 6,000 women operating in groups.
Given the pattern of small land-holding in the district, mushroom cultivation offers a ray of hope for marginal farmers to improve lifestyle and raise their income. As Nirmala Devi says, even 1,200 square feet land is enough to grow about 100 bags.
The expert hand comes in
While Rajendra Agriculture University in Pusa, Bihar, is doing pioneering research in mushroom cultivation and actively providing quality seeds, it is the local level experts who are marshalling the forces on ground. Experts such as Kundan Kumar, a subject matter specialist (SMS) trained the likes of Nirupa Devi to put her scarce land to best use by cultivating mushroom.
These specialists are appointed to help educate villagers under a joint project of the Centre and the Bihar government.
Kumar says besides creating economic opportunities for marginal farmers, labourers trained under the ATMA scheme earn decent wages in the district, a crucial factor which has checked their migration to urban areas in search of work.
Interestingly, the economics of mushroom farming in Nalanda is only one angle. According to Kundan Kumar, its cultivation is also, at some level, breaking down caste barriers, perhaps the biggest bane of Bihar. "Mushroom cultivation has increased community feelings in the villages,” he says.
What has given fillip to mushroom cultivation is Nalanda’s geographical location. With influx of Buddhist pilgrims and tourists to adjacent township Rajgir, hotels and government establishments, including the Sainik School, buy mushrooms in bulk. The Bihar government is also promoting it by roping in its milk cooperative, Sudha, to introduce mushroom at its outlets across the state, says district magistrate Sanjay Agarwal, who played a major role in promoting mushroom and new agriculture practices in the district.
“We intend to introduce it in mid-day meal schemes as a nutritional fillip for children,” Agarwal says.
And as befits an ‘expert’ in the field, Nalanda district now boasts of its own “mushroom spawn lab” to provide quality seedling to farmers. The seedlings were earlier procured from Solan, Himachal Pradesh.
Given the conducive climate and abundance of husk produced from wheat and rice, Bihar is set to become a major mushroom centre. And for now, like it did ages ago, Nalanda is showing the way for future.
(Meet the mushrooming role model tomorrow)
Starting Tuesday, Maharashtra has relaxed restrictions in 22 out of the 36 districts reporting low case positivity numbers of Covid-19. However, Level 3 restrictions will continue in Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Beed , Raigad and Palghar.
Today (August 2), prime minister Narendra Modi launched the e-RUPI voucher system which is another milestone in Digital India. Simply put, this will be a digital payment which will be delivered to mobile phones of beneficiaries, even with no bank account and this payment is like an e-Voucher in form of a S
Inaugurating the project to redevelop the famed BDD Chawls at Jamboree Maidan in Worli area of central Mumbai, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to the residents not to sell their new homes and to preserve the chawl’s culture and history. The Bhoomipujan, earlier sch
In a scathing attack on the government, PawanKhera, national spokesperson of the Congress party, has said that the BJP is remote-controlled by RSS, an unregistered organisation that decides who the PM will be and lead the country, yet no question is asked to them. Asking how Amit Shah, JP N
Nationalist Congress Party president and senior leader Sharad Pawar has appealed to political leaders in the state not to visit the flood ravaged areas of Maharashtra as it diverts attention of those engaged in relief and rehabilitation to VIP arrangements and hampers work. The deat
Sri Lankan media baron, business tycoon and Chairman of The Capital Maharaja Group conglomerate, Rajandram Rajamahendran, passed away at Colombo early Sunday morning. He was 79. Rajamahendran was suffering from health problems and was receiving treatment at a private hospital in Colombo. &nb