Mushroom farmers laugh all the way to the bankPadam Bahadur Khadka of Kalika, Hareedanda earns Rs50,000 monthly by producing organic mushroom.
Padam Bahadur Khadka of Kalika, Hareedanda earns Rs50,000 monthly by producing organic mushroom.
He began commercial mushroom farming five years ago, and now he is known as a highly successful farmer in the district. Growing market demand, quick returns and low labour and investment costs were the key factors that attracted Khadka to mushroom farming.
The common variety grown is ‘white button’ mushroom or ‘gobre chyau’, which can be harvested within three months. It is grown in hilly areas.
“I received training on growing mushrooms from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” he said. When he started the farm, he did not believe that mushroom could be grown on logs. “Even my fellow villagers did not believe it,” Khadka said. “But now, it has become a good source of income.”
Khadka initially started mushroom cultivation with 30-40 logs. He now has 350 logs on which he grows the vegetable. Many villagers have followed Khadka’s successful venture.
Baaldiwas Thami is one of them. Thami, who has been growing mushroom for the last two years, also earns about Rs50,000 monthly. A returning migrant worker had invested Rs60,000 in his farm project.
“It’s a one-time investment. After that, you will start making money for a long time,” he said. Using a few techniques, mushroom can be grown during the off season too. “It requires less investment and labour compared to other crops.” Like Khadka and Thami, there are more than 25 farmers involved in commercial organic mushroom farming in the district, said Hikmat Bahadur Shrestha, chief of the District Agriculture Office.
“Chautara, Barhabise, Melamchi and Kathmandu are key markets for the mushroom produced here,” he said.
Mushroom cultivation is relatively new in Nepal. Currently, about five species of mushroom are cultivated on a commercial scale. Among them, white button and oyster mushroom are produced on a large scale.
Research into mushroom cultivation began in 1974 under the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC). White button mushroom cultivation started in 1977 and it was the first variety grown by farmers.Nepal produces 1,700 tonnes of mushroom annually, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Agricultural Development.