Women farmers earn big profits from mushroomsA group of 25 farmer women in Sitapur, Nepalgunj have been harvesting up to 350 kg of mushroom daily and taking home Rs3.75 million in profits annually.
Krishna Prasad Gautam
A group of 25 farmer women in Sitapur, Nepalgunj have been harvesting up to 350 kg of mushroom daily and taking home Rs3.75 million in profits annually.
The women are members of Nava Jyoti Farmers Group, and they have been growing the popular fungus in 14 sheds on their farm.
The women’s group established the farm with a financial assistance of Rs1.8 million provided by the Agriculture Ministry under its Raising Incomes of Small and Medium Farmers Project. The group members put up another Rs1.8 million on their own.
The income generated from the mushroom farm has improved the living standards of the women. They have been devoting their spare time after completing their household chores to mushroom farming. “Traders visit our farm to purchase our products, and we have already sold 2.8 tonnes of mushrooms this season,” said Krishna Chaudhary, chairperson of the group. “We expect to produce and sell another 10 tonnes of mushroom by the end of April.”
The mushrooms are planted in the last week of November, and they are ready to be harvested by the end of April. “We are harvesting 50 to 350 kg of mushrooms per day,” said Chaudhary. “By the end of the season, each member will be receiving Rs150,000.”
Traders pay the group Rs200 per kg for their mushrooms and sell them in the local market for Rs240 per kg. The mushrooms grown on the farm are sold in Nepalgunj, Khajura, Kohalpur and Surkhet.
Sometimes, the group finds it difficult to find buyers for their products. “As production is very high, the market is occasionally glutted,” said Ambika Sharma, secretary of the group. “If the government ensures a market for our products, we are ready to expand our farm.”
As the group already owns assets like scientific sheds and delivery vehicles to transport the mushrooms, it will be easy to expand the farm, Sharma added.
“We are also planning to manage two harvests per year,” said Sharma. “Currently, there is one harvesting season annually.”
Mushroom cultivation is relatively new in Nepal, and it has been rapidly gaining popularity. Currently, about five species of mushrooms are cultivated on a commercial scale. Among them, white button and oyster mushrooms are produced on a large scale.
Research into mushroom cultivation began in 1974 under the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC). Cultivation of white button mushroom started in 1977, and it was the first variety grown by farmers.
Nepal produces 1,700 tonnes of mushrooms annually, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Agricultural Development.