Nisar Ahmad (27) from North Kashmir's Kupwara district instead of running after jobs, started his own mushroom cultivation farm to earn livelihood. This decision has made him prouder of himself and his income has earned manifold with a short span of time.
After completing a Masters Degree in Economics from Dehradun in 2018, Nisar had to move back to Kashmir to support his family.
On reaching back home, Nisar joined a private school as a teacher in July 2018 at Kulangam Handwara but he realized soon that this job could not fulfill the financial needs of his family.
He quit the job and decided to do something innovative which could make him financially sound. But till April 2019 he was unable to figure out anything till he attended a mushroom cultivation awareness programme organized by the agriculture department at his village Bramri Kupwara.
“Although thirty odd unemployed youth attended the awareness programme who at the end were offered a three month innovative farming training course by agriculture officials at Sher-i -Kashmir Agricultural University of Science and Technology (SKUAST-K) but no one except me got ready to undergo training,” Nisar Ahmad .
“After three month training course, the agricultural department Kupwara encouraged me to go for a mushroom cultivation unit for which I was offered the required stuff free of cost. I took the initiative and started with a single unit in 2019,” he added.
“I harvested good amount of mushrooms only after the passage of 40 days. During the first season of my work, I was able to harvest more than 2 quintal crops . I earned a handsome amount out of my first crop which encouraged me to continue with the cultivation of mushrooms,” he added.
“Soon I approached the agriculture department again and asked them for one more unit which they did offer me without any reluctance and presently I do harvest more than 5 quintals of mushroom from both units,” Nisar added.
He said that during winter, the cultivator needs to keep proper heating arrangements in the room and the temperature of the room must be 20-25 degree Celsius for better crop. “During summer the cultivator does not need heating arrangements because the substantial outside temperature does the job,” he added.
Nisar has been able to lead a better and more financially stable life ever since he started to cultivate mushrooms. He intends to expand from two units to more than five for which he has constructed separate four rooms in his courtyard.
“Had I not abandoned my private school teacher job at the right time, I would have certainly been discontent but I took the initiative and look, I am earning beyond my expectations,” Nisar added.
“I sell mushrooms at a rate of Rs 200 per kg to my customers and in the market the same is being sold at Rs 400-500 per kg. Since people love organic vegetables, people across the district approach me round the year for fresh mushrooms,”.
Nisar intends to go for organic egg production and floriculture in future and for that he yearns that the agriculture department should assist him so that he can be an inspiration for youth in these two ventures also.
“I feel that government cannot give job to everyone so need of the hour is that the educated unemployed youth should rise to the occasion and start their ventures but unfortunately most of the youth in Kashmir yearn for white collar jobs which seems difficult due to unavailability of corporate sector in Kashmir,” said Nisar.
“We should take advantage of whatever is feasible and convenient here and should not stick to government jobs only. There are hundreds of financial schemes being run by different government departments which I believe youth should take advantage of,” Nisar added.