Woman in Bihar’s Gopalganj brings mushroom cultivation home
A woman in Bihar’s Gopalganj has taken to mushroom farming, and inspired the women of the region to follow suit. Fifty-year-old Rekha Kumari cultivates three variants of mushroom in her farmhouse, and trains other women as well.
“We have information that Rekha Kumari has trained more than 500 people, mainly women. Inspired by her, at least 50 people have engaged in mushroom cultivation,” said Ved Narayan Singh, district agriculture officer (DAO), Gopalganj.
A resident of Hathuwa in Gopalganj district, Kumari started with just ₹1,000 in 2013 and cultivates Button, Oyster and Milky mushrooms in six rooms (about 1,500 square feet), learning nuances from Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University Pusa at Samastipur. Today, she says she earns between ₹3-4 lakh.
“There was a slump in the earning during the first two phases of the pandemic but it has not slipped below the five figure yet,” said Kumari from Samastipur where she is undergoing further training for seed generation.
She is also focusing on Hericium, Shiitake and Paddy Straw, three other species of mushroom, besides producing seed. “The cultivation mushroom requires a lot of adjustment, judgement, calculation and monitoring of a moisture level, cross-ventilation, and screening the produce from light for good result. It is all about discipline and it does not involve strenuous work,” Kumari said, a graduate in economics from JP university, Chhapra.
Over the year, Kumari has learnt to make samosa, pickles, biscuits, namkeen , Gulab Jamun and laddoo with mushrooms to stretch the shelf life of her produce and has employed six women as well.
A mother of two daughters and a son, Kumari’s husband Avinash Prasad encouraged her to engage in mushroom cultivation after their children were grown up.
Meanwhile, many women have trained under Kumari. Md. Neyaz Ahmad, assistant director, horticulture, Gopalganj said, “We are encouraging her to register her firm and impart formal training.”
Chanda Devi, a resident of Haziyapur, who has trained with Kumari, said, “After picking up the basic tips, we have started cultivation in January this year.”
Officials put the total number of farmers engaged in mushroom cultivation between 80 and 90 in Gopalganj district alone. “The total production of Oyster mushroom alone is around 320 quintal per annum,” said Md. Neyaz Ahmad, assistant director horticulture.
Gopalganj district magistrate Dr Naval Kishor Choudhary said, “In our bid to promote such cultivation by farmers, we are doing everything to ensure assistance to Rekha Kumari, which includes a tie-up with bank and linkage with NABARD. These apart, we are assisting her to develop a project to facilitate her production on commercial scale,” said the district magistrate.