Mushrooms have high nutritional value and are relatively easy to grow, as they do not demand a lot of inputs, techniques and monitoring. In addition to that, straws are the by-product of rice production, therefore are easily available after the harvest. Thus, mushroom cultivation is a good source of additional income in villages, as well as helping smallholder farmers to improve their nutritional status.
Growing mushrooms is “the easiest thing to do” says Shyam Tamang, from Bhangeri village. “After 3 weeks, it starts growing, after 4 weeks, we start selling”. So far, he has sold/distributed 20 kg. It is the first time he cultivates mushrooms, as he used to grow only tomatoes and cauliflower. After having received a 3-day training from Caritas Nepal, mushrooms have become an additional source of income for him and other 4 farmers in the village. Caritas provided the seeds, plastic bags and stripes to hang them, and a straw cutting machine. The bags are stuffed with straws and seeds for cultivation. In the whole rural municipality, 14 people took part in the training.
“Only after the training we realised how easy it is, so we are thankful to Caritas Nepal for that.”
Rammaya Tamang is also growing mushrooms in a small room attached to her house in Bhangeri. She distributed the first batch for free in the village. Surprised, the visitors from Caritas Nepal asked why she did that instead of selling them. Rammaya said that she wanted to know if people found them tasty or not. The training on mushroom cultivation was the first one she ever participated. Before that, she was growing vegetables for her own consumption. Now she has thoughts on expanding this enterprise, generously willing to sell the produce below market price.
The scenario is similar in Tame Village, also located in the Tadi Rural Municipality. Huddha Bahadur Shrestha, chairman of the Dara Tole Agriculture Group, is growing mushrooms for the first time. Before, he used to sell only potatoes and cauliflower, but now is very happy with this idea.
“It is not costly to invest in it, you can have a small amount of money, just work a few days and then just water it. Before, we were not serious about farming. It was just for household consume. Now we are aiming high, at commercial farming”, says Mr. Shrestha, describing how the farmers in his village are now more committed and ambitious.