Mushroom venture pays dividend for farmers

Mushroom venture pays dividend for farmers

Mushroom venture pays dividend for farmers

Devi Maya Shrestha of Hetauda sub-metropolitan city in Makwanpur has been growing mushrooms using tunnel technology for the last eight years. She started with two tunnel farms and now owns 124 tunnel farms where she grows mushrooms. She has leased three bigas of land in Padampokhari, Naamtar and Nawalpur for mushroom farming.

“I sell 500 to 700 kg of mushrooms daily,” she said. Traders come directly to her farm to buy her products. “I am busy at my farm from morning to evening,” said Shrestha who produces mushrooms year round using the technology. Shrestha employs 16 people at her farm.

Last year, she earned Rs2.5 million from mushroom sales and has targeted to earn Rs3.5 million this year.

Tunnel farms made of a bamboo structure and plastic covering can be found across large swathes here where farmers mostly grow mushrooms. This year, she has registered her farm as Manakamana Mushroom Farm and has invested Rs110 million in mushroom farming. Dambar Bahadur Chapagain, Agriculture Development coordinator of Hetauda sub-metropolitan office, said that it costs Rs100,000 to build a tunnel farm 16 feet wide and 32 feet long and buy mushroom bulbs. He added that 350 bulbs could be planted in a tunnel and each bulb yields on average 2-3 kg of mushrooms.

There are 400 farmers involved in commercial mushroom farming in Makwanpur. According to Shrestha, due to competitive market, the profit from mushroom farming has dropped. “However, still we can earn 30 to 40 percent profit off our total investment.” Shrestha said that she had constructed a two-storey house in Nawalpur and purchased a vehicle and a scooter with her earnings. Her earnings from mushroom farming has allowed her to finance her son’s education, who is currently studying engineering in Chitwan.

The Agriculture Development Office has been supporting her with technical assistance. Under the Youth Self-employment Programme, she was provided Rs40,000 of grant to begin the farm. “She is the only woman in the town who has invested heavily in mushroom farming,” said Nirmal Gadal, chief of the office.

“Mushroom farming has brought big changes to her family.” Gadal said that lack of quality mushroom seeds and irregular delivery had been a problem in the district. He said that if the agriculture office manages to produce mushroom seeds in Hetauda, it would help large number of farmers who have been affected by low quality of seeds.

Makwanpur produces 2 tonnes of mushrooms daily. The products are supplied to Birgunj, Narayangadh, Butwal and Pokhara. Mushrooms can fetch up to Rs100 to Rs125 per kg at current market prices. The agriculture office said that Makwanpur has been producing organic mushroom. The office has been providing grant of Rs800,000 and helping farmers with technical know-how.

Entrepreneurs in Makwanpur district has invested more than Rs38.4 million in mushroom farming this year as it has been providing good returns. After Kathmandu, Makwanpur is the highest mushroom producing district.

The agriculture office said that Makwanpur sells mushroom worth Rs700 million annually.

Source: The Kathmandu Post

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