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Can mushroom farming in J&K prove a sustainable income source for small entrepreneurs?

Ziraat Times News Network

Srinagar, Jan 4: Agricultural diversification is the key to reduce risk in farming activities. Mushroom cultivation is one important tool in not only enhancing agricultural income of the farming community but also securing it against changes in climate and soil resources.

With this in mind the Government of J&K is implementing a full-fledged project on “Promotion of Round the Year Mushroom Cultivation”. The project to be implemented at a cost of around Rs 42 Cr over the next three years by the Agriculture Production Department, J&K will increase the production of Mushrooms by 3.5 times & employment generation by 3 times. As many as 768 new enterprises are also being created in the process to ensure sustainability of the interventions.

“Mushroom farming generates revenue and helps to reduce poverty. The production of mushrooms creates a significant amount of direct and indirect employment opportunities in the fields of cultivation and marketing, as well as providing opportunities for processing businesses and labor-intensive management. Mushroom farming requires little capital, little technical expertise, and it is even possible to grow mushrooms indoors on a small scale and easily earn a high return on investment.” said Sh. Atal Dulloo IAS, Financial Commissioner (Addl Chief Secretary) APD. He further said that women can grow mushrooms in their homes with little investment. As a result, mushroom farming not only gives rural women more power but also fights poverty at its source.

“Promotion of Round the Year Mushroom Cultivation” is one among the 29 projects, which were approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration after being recommended by the UT Level Apex Committee for holistic development of Agriculture and Allied Sectors in UT of J&K. The prestigious committee is headed by Dr Mangala Rai, Former DG ICAR and has other luminaries in the field of Agriculture, Planning, Statistics & Administration like Shri Ashok Dalwai, CEO NRAA, Dr. P. K Joshi, Secretary, NAAS, Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Horticulture Commissioner MOA & FW, Dr. H. S Gupta, Former Director, IARI, Sh. Atal Dulloo IAS, Financial Commissioner (Addl Chief Secretary) APD apart from the Vice Chancellors of the twin Agriculture Universities of the UT.

“Mushroom is an important cottage industry in rural areas. It leads to economic betterment of small & marginal farmers, landless laborers, and women. Being a cash crop it is a good means of generating employment opportunities for youth of the UT. Lack of availability of pasteurized compost & unorganized market were the major constraints in mushroom production and this project is going to address them in a significant way.” said K.K.Sharma, Director Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Jammu, who is implementing the project in collaboration with SKUAST.

Under the project 26 pasteurized compost making units, 10 spawn production labs and 72 controlled conditioned cropping rooms (2000 bags capacity), will be established in span of three years. For the promotion of mushroom cultivation in non-traditional areas subsidized 1.5 lakh pasteurised compost bags will be distributed among mushroom growers. Women empowerment through establishment of 300 women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) will be undertaken.

The project also focuses on value addition of the perishable commodity through creation of four canning units and distribution of 60 solar dryers among mushroom growers. In addition to this an amount of Rs 2.1 Cr has been earmarked for research & development. Under this emphasis will be laid on promotion of medicinal mushrooms & introduction of new strains of mushrooms with specific emphasis on standardization of locally available substrates & documentation of conditions for their optimal growth.

All in all the mushroom sector in J&K is about to witness a resurgence in the form of unprecedented institutional & capital support which will boost production, productivity as well as export of mushrooms from the UT.

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