Mushroom cultivation is relatively a novel idea in the area of Rajasthan. LDF CPMs developed and worked on the idea to create sustainable livelihood for the beneficiaries in Devgarh block, Rajasmand district, Rajasthan.
The idea was initially discussed with CLF and the enthusiasm shown by the members led to starting the pilot project. The plan was to select poor households from the villages which were barely involved in agriculture. It was estimated that this livelihood intervention of mushroom cultivation would yield better results and the impact could be easily reflected and replicated in the near future.
One of the greatest challenges was to identify the type of mushroom that could be grown in the present environmental conditions of Rajasthan. Finding a mushroom type which would be easy to grow throughout the year and would give fruitful results was a major task. After consulting agriculture experts from Agriculture University, Rajasthan and Rural Technology Park, NIRD & PR Hyderabad, it was decided that Oyster Mushroom was apt for the pilot.
Also, the concept of mushroom cultivation was extremely new for the community members. They were totally new to it, and for them, it was “Haap ki Chatri”, meaning snake’s umbrella. With regular ratri choupals in which we shared a video of women from Bihar explaining the activity, and photos of mushroom grown in Agriculture University, Rajasthan, 80 members from 4 villages agreed to take up the pilot.
The project was discussed with eight different organizations, enterprises and institutes (including Rural Technology Park, NIRD&PR Hyderabad, Agriculture University Udaipur) for training and market support. Finally, Rashi Priya Mushroom from Morena, Madhya Pradesh agreed to provide technical and market Support.
During the ratri choupals it was clearly mentioned that this activity would require investment of Rs. 1500 form each member interested. The whole concept with present quotation of the buyer was discussed. Finally, 15 SHG women from Vijaipura Village of Sangawas cluster agreed to invest before the season end. Thus, this led to starting up of the pilot in the village.
The pilot involves 15 SHG members who have invested Rs.1500 each and a demo plant by the Cluster Level Federation which involves investment of Rs. 12,750. With a total investment of Rs. 35,250 the pilot includes plantation of 160Kgs of oyster mushroom seed, three days practical training of each member, setup cost of mushroom demo plant (Rs. 6,750), polythene bags, sterilizers etc.
Each member planted 8 Kgs. of seed at their premises which would yield 80-90 Kgs. of raw mushroom and 8-9 Kgs of dry mushroom. The expected return on investment for each member is Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 3,800 in a span of 45days. Considering the total investment of the pilot i.e. Rs. 35,250 the expected return is Rs. 52,500 to Rs. 71,000 taking minimal figures.
In the near future (in the span of one year) 500-600 Households would be linked all over Devgarh. The idea is to form 20-30 Producer Groups (PG) in the potential villages and form a Farmer Producer Organization (FPO), which would be involved in Production-Storage-Processing-Marketing cycle of the product. The processing unit would also make bi-products like pickles, papads etc.
The mushroom cultivation intervention is one of its kind. With the pilot itself, the investment of the poor SHG women would be doubled in the span of just 45 days. It requires very low inputs to grow and could be easily implemented by any member along with the regular farm, off-farm or non-farm activity they are involved in.