Jammu: Aiming to support small scale farmers, the J&K government is going to implement a full-fledged project at a cost of Rs 42 crore in next three years for promotion of round the year mushroom cultivation for sustainable and profitable crop.
“The project will be implemented at a cost of around Rs 42 crore over the next three years by the Agriculture Production Department in J&K which will increase the production of mushrooms by 3.5 times and accordingly, the employment will be generated by 3 times,” Financial Commissioner (Additional Chief Secretary), Agriculture Production Department (APD), Atal Dulloo told Greater Kashmir.
“The agricultural diversification is the key to reduce risk in farming activities and hence, mushroom cultivation has emerged as one of the important tools which not only enhance agricultural income of the farming community but also secure it against changes in climate and soil resources,” he said.
Dulloo said that with this motivation the government had decided to implement a full–fledged project at the cost of Rs 42 crore for round the year promotion of mushroom cultivation.
“As many as 768 new enterprises are also being created in the process to ensure sustainability of the interventions,” he said. “The mushroom farming generates revenue and helps to reduce poverty. The production of mushrooms creates a significant amount of direct and indirect employment opportunities in the fields of cultivation, marketing as well as providing opportunities for processing businesses and labour-intensive management.”
Dulloo said mushroom farming requires little capital, little technical expertise, and it was even possible to grow mushrooms indoors on a small scale and easily earn a high return on investment.
“The women can grow mushrooms in their homes with little investment. As a result, mushroom farming not only gives rural women more power but also fights poverty at its source,” he said. “Promotion of round the year mushroom cultivation is one among the 29 projects, which were approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration after being recommended by the Union Territory Level Apex Committee for holistic development of agriculture and allied sectors in J&K.”
The prestigious committee is headed by former DG ICAR Mangala Rai and has other luminaries in the field of agriculture, planning, statistics and administration like CEO NRAA Ashok Dalwai, Secretary NAAS P K Joshi, Horticulture Commissioner MOA and FW Prabhat Kumar, former Director, IARI H S Gupta, Financial Commissioner (Additional Chief Secretary) APD Atal Dulloo and Vice Chancellors of the twin agriculture universities of J&K.
According to Director Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Jammu, K K Sharma, who is implementing the project in collaboration with SKUAST, said that mushroom is an important cottage industry in rural areas that leads to economic betterment of small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, and women.
“Being a cash crop, it is a good means of generating employment opportunities for youth. The lack of availability of pasteurized compost and unorganized market were the major constraints in mushroom production and this project is going to address them in a significant way,” he said.
Under this project, 26 pasteurised compost making units, 10 spawn production labs and 72 controlled conditioned cropping rooms (2000 bags capacity), would be established in three years.
For the promotion of mushroom cultivation in non-traditional areas, subsidized 1.5 lakh pasteurised compost bags would be distributed among the mushroom growers. The women empowerment through establishment of 300 women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) would also be undertaken.
The project also focuses on value addition of the perishable commodity through creation of four canning units and distribution of 60 solar dryers among mushroom growers.
In addition to this, an amount of Rs 2.1 crore has been earmarked for research and development.
Under this, emphasis would be laid on the promotion of medicinal mushrooms and introduction of new strains of mushrooms with specific emphasis on standardisation of locally available substrates and documentation of conditions for their optimal growth.