Mushroom Cultivation - A way towards self-reliance
Locals in Jharkhand eat a lot of mushrooms that are farmed in the area. However, commercial mushroom production in the state has a lot of potential because naturally occurring mushrooms are only available for a brief time. Small and marginal farmers account for 84% of all farmers in the state. Oyster Mushroom Cultivation could provide an additional source of income by utilising resources like paddy straw.
A technological demonstration on Oyster Mushroom Cultivation was carried out by the Farming System Research Centre for Hill and Plateau Region, Ranchi (FSRCHPR) of ICAR-RCER in three villages in Jharkhand, 18 to 23 kilometres from Ranchi, under the DBT Biotech KISAN Hub Project.
Farmers in the Initiative Villages earned an average of Rs. 1.7 lakh per year at the start of the project in 2019. Nearly 38% of the total paddy straw produced in farming systems was found to be unusable, according to the assessment of its availability. Most farm families' diets consisted of a high percentage of cereals and little to no pulses, fresh fruit or vegetable sources of vitamin A, or sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
57 farmers from Sarwal Village in Jharkhand began oyster mushroom cultivation in 2019 after attending training at the ICAR-RCER, FSRCHPR, Ranchi, Jharkhand. A total of 3081 kg of oyster mushrooms were produced over this time period, with a biological efficiency ranging from 76,4% to 85,3% The farmers could make a total of Rs. 3,96,720/- by selling their goods in the local market for Rs. 120 to Rs. 150 per Kg, with an average Benefit: Cost Ratio of 3.8.
After the first year's success with a small number of farmers, a total of 88 farmers, largely from Sarwal Village, began cultivating oyster mushrooms. The adopted villages produced roughly 7.7 tonnes of mushrooms in 2020-21, according to government estimates. For cluster-based production of Oyster Mushrooms, the mushroom growers in Sarwal Village have formed a farmers' group called "Sarwal Ajeevika Mahila Mushroom Utpadak Sangh."
Members have begun adding value to the fresh Mushroom they grow on their own farms. They prepare a variety of processed goods, including Dried Mushroom, Mushroom Powder, and Pickles. The local market sells a significant number of the processed goods, while farm families use a significant portion of the dehydrated goods.
In addition to working as a daily wage labourer in adjacent villages, Smt. Basanti Devi of Sarwal Village made money through her own modest shop. She made about Rs. 24,750/- a year in gross income from all of her endeavours put together. After completing her training, she and her daughter began cultivating Oyster Mushrooms in a spare room in their house. With the Institute's constant support, she had already produced over 400 kg of oyster mushrooms, of which 360 kg were sold in the local market, generating an additional revenue of Rs 43,200/- for the company.
The Sarwal Village resident, Smt. Jharia Lakra, used only 1.1 acres of her five-acre property to produce paddy and other Rainfed crops. Her overall agricultural revenue was close to Rs. 49,500/- per year, with a large portion of her earnings coming from Goatary. In two rooms with a combined space of about 150 square metres, she is cultivating mushrooms after receiving training in the art of mushroom cultivation. In 2020-21, she produced more than 700 kg of mushrooms, which she sold in the local market for between Rs. 120 and Rs. 140/- per kg, earning her a total of about Rs. 94,500. Also, she uses vermicompost from the spent mushroom media she vermicomposts in HDPE bags for her vegetable crops.
When Oyster Mushroom Cultivation was introduced into the farming system, farmers were able to earn between Rs. 1,200 and Rs. 33,075. As a result of easy access to Oyster Mushrooms at home, consumption has risen from less than 2.0 Kg per year to over 40 Kg per year. Mushroom producers could also produce nearly 2 tonnes of Vermicompost by recycling discarded mushroom substrate with HDPE vermibed, which was proven as part of the study.