Farmers in Surkhet used to do mushroom cultivation in a very small scale few years back. They have never thought this as a good alternative of food and nutrition security as well as income generating source.
Though the farmers had some knowledge about household mushroom cultivation they have never incorporated this as an important component in their agriculture system. This is because of less technical knowledge and unavailability of spore (seed). They consumed only wild edible mushrooms in the jungles available in monsoon season only. In order to fulfill this gap, SAFBIN provided farmers few days of practical training in household level and provided mushroom spores with the purpose to produce and consume mushroom in household level.
After receiving the training, 208 farmers from different locations started mushroom cultivation in their houses individually. After the first attempt, they were very excited to see the production. In an average each farmer produced around 12 kg of mushroom which they consumed in t heir household, shared with the neighbors and sold the surplus production in nearby local markets. After 1-2 production cycles, they up scaled the production and started to sell the production collectively in the bigger markets and district headquarter. Later they realized that per unit production cost could be reduced by collectivizing the equipment and labor. Thus they decided to combine their resources and go for collective mushroom production in a commercial scale. Currently, three smallholder farmers groups are doing collective mushroom production. SAFBIN has supported seed money of Rs 25,000 (200 Euro) for each to these 3 groups to promote small and medium enterprise on commercial mushroom farming.
At present, each group makes an income of Rs. 30,000-40,000 (200 – 350 Euro) per season from the investment of NRS 8000- 10000 (60-80 Euro). It is expected that the group will take forward this in a bigger scale as an enterprises even after SAFBIN project phases out.