SRINAGAR: Agricultural diversification is key to reduce the risk in farming activities and the J&K Government is constantly employing latest technological interventions to diversify agriculture sector across Jammu and Kashmir.
Mushroom cultivation is one important tool in not only enhancing agricultural income of the farming community but also securing it against rising changes in climate and soil resources.
With this in mind, the Government of J&K is implementing a full-fledged project on ‘Promotion of Round the Year Mushroom Cultivation’ (PRYMC) across the UT. The project to be implemented at a cost of around Rs 42 Cr over the next three years by the Agriculture Production Department of J&K will increase the production of Mushrooms by 3.5 times and revolutionise Mushroom Cultivation here. The project will also increase employment generation by 3 times and more than 768 new enterprises are also being created in the process to ensure sustainability of the interventions.
“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 and marketing, as well as providing opportunities for processing businesses and labour-intensive management”, said Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture Production Department, Atal Dulloo.
He added that Mushroom farming requires little capital, little technical expertise, and it is even possible to grow mushrooms indoors on a small scale and easily earn a high return on investment. He further said that women can grow mushrooms in their homes with little investment and as a result, mushroom farming not only gives rural women more power but also fights poverty at its source.
‘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 UT Level Apex Committee for holistic development of Agriculture and Allied Sectors in UT of J&K. The prestigious committee is headed by Dr Mangala Rai, Former DG ICAR and has other luminaries in the field of Agriculture, Planning, Statistics & Administration like Shri Ashok Dalwai, CEO NRAA, Dr. P. K Joshi, Secretary, NAAS, Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Horticulture Commissioner MOA & FW, Dr. H. S Gupta, Former Director, IARI, Sh. Atal Dulloo IAS, Financial Commissioner (Addl Chief Secretary) APD apart from the Vice Chancellors of the twin Agriculture Universities of the UT.
“Mushroom is an important cottage industry in rural areas. It leads to economic betterment of small & marginal farmers, landless laborers, and women. Being a cash crop it is a good means of generating employment opportunities for youth of the UT”, said Director Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Jammu, K.K Sharma, who is implementing the project in collaboration with SKUAST.
He added that lack of availability of pasteurized compost & unorganized market were the major constraints in mushroom production and this project is going to address them in a significant way.
Under the project 26 pasteurized compost making units, 10 spawn production labs and 72 controlled conditioned cropping rooms (2000 bags capacity), will be established in span of three years. For the promotion of mushroom cultivation in non-traditional areas, 1.5 lakh subsidized pasteurised compost bags will be distributed among mushroom growers. Women empowerment through establishment of 300 women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) will 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 Crs has been earmarked for research and development. Under this emphasis will also be laid on promotion of medicinal mushrooms and introduction of new strains of mushrooms. It will also have specific emphasis on standardization of locally available substrates and documentation of conditions for their optimal growth.
All in all, the mushroom sector in J&K is about to witness a resurgence in the form of unprecedented institutional and capital support which will boost production, productivity as well as export of mushrooms from the UT.