RAMBAN: Ministry of Agriculture Ramban is successfully promoting mushroom cultivation to farmers, especially women, to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.
According to the Director of Agriculture (CAO), Farooq Ahmed, up to 75 progressive farmers interested in growing mushrooms have been trained by the department in addition to providing them with 5560 bags of compost which are transported from Kharote village in the district. from Kathua by departmental refrigerated vans.
In the year 2021-22, from August to date, the district recorded a production of 11032 kg of mushrooms from 5560 bags, surpassing the record of all previous years.
He said farmers grow popular edible mushrooms for their delicacy and flavor, adding that they are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and protein. White button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus is usually grown on specially prepared media called compost.
The main ingredient of compost is wheat straw which is a constraint for large scale commercial cultivation of mushrooms and to meet the requirement, wheat straw purchased from neighboring wheat producing districts or states is an expensive affair which reduces the cost-benefit ratio.
However, in the current era of science and technology, the pasteurized composting units established by private and public actors in the districts of Udhampur, Kathua, Samba and Jammu have opened up new prospects for profitable cultivation of mushrooms in the district of Ramban. These units offer the availability of bags of pasteurized compost each, containing 10 to 12 kg of well-prepared compost.
Compost bags purchased from these units further save a month’s time, providing a cost-benefit ratio of 1:2.5, he added.
Ramban district has huge potential for mushroom production throughout the year due to the variable altitude. To harness the potential, the department provides hands-on training to new growers through the learn-by-doing method, encouraging entrepreneurship to make the mushroom available in local markets.
Mushroom growers have expressed their satisfaction with the results and hope to increase production volume in the next season.
They also expressed their gratitude to the Deputy Commissioner, Ramban Musarrat Islam, for taking an initiative in mobilizing the Department of Agriculture which carried out massive extension works during the last season in all the Panchayats to boost the entrepreneurship.
The CAO said the department will help farmers by training them to undertake a mushroom cultivation business. He said mushroom farming is an income-generating activity with the potential to fulfill the Prime Minister’s dream of doubling farm incomes by 2022.