Mushroom farming is one of the immense potential crops which could trigger youth generation towards its production. High valued crop in terms of both food and medicine with low cost production technology cannot only attract the youth but also smallholder farmers to get high return within short time interval. Agroclimatic variation in Nepal is a boon for the mushroom farming, as it can be cultivated in almost all ecological areas.
As planned for year round activities, the 5 YPARD Nepal local representatives (Smiriti, Sapana, Bindu, Madan and Swikriti) thought about cultivating mushrooms. This project was intended for the field practices learning as well as to gain practical understanding about the mushroom farming. Not only does it involve young people but also attracts and motivates them towards such high valued crops' cultivation.
We collected funds on our own in order to buy the necessary materials like plastics, polythene bags, straw, woods and bamboos. In collaboration with Mr.Ramchandra Bastakoti, an innovative agribusiness holder, we started to cultivate Oyster mushrooms in an unused fallow field at Rampur, Chitwan. We got started by building a plastic tunnel with bamboos and sticks. Then we collected the straw, chopped it into small pieces and soaked it in water for 2-3 hours. That was followed by heating and sterilizing the soaked straw in the tank.
After having heated it for 3 hours, we kept it in big plastic covers to cool it. We inoculated the Oyster spawn spread in every layer of straw of 6-8 cm height and pressed the straw slightly to make the bag compact. After having filled the bag with spawn and straw, the mouth of the bag was tied with thread. Small holes were made for aeration. Eighty of these polybags were firstly prepared and installed in the shed house, in order to irrigate afterwards 2-3 times a day.
After 2 months, the polybags were fully covered with mycelium and fruiting body was starting to emerge. It was a real pleasure for us to see the first harvest’s sign. Our happiness knew no bounds when we started to harvest and sell our products at the local market on a daily basis. We even felt proud when our friends and teachers knew about our mushroom farming and congratulated us for our success.
It was a real challenge for us with limited knowledge and resources but we did not give up. We explored different literatures for best practices of its cultivation, its potential and importance. Besides this, we did not only learn but also taught the farmers as well as interested students how to cultivate.
With a similar motto to attract and engage the youth towards farming for agriculture development, we have been working hard. We have a group of network/ organization called YPARD Nepal, which is a country branch of YPARD. It is formed by a group of students who seeks a change and believes that the future of agriculture is under the youth hands.
Mushrooms’ cultivation is an actively growing business in Nepal. One of the factors why young people are being attracted towards mushroom farming is due to the short time period between cultivation and harvesting where they do not require much more initial investment and can be grown with locally available resources. In fact, most of the farmers did not have strong economic background, so they had to take loans and wanted to repay it as soon as possible. Therefore, mushroom farming gave them a quick profit.
To sum up, through our project, we were successful in demonstrating how the mushroom farming works where many students and youth participated to learn the farming process. Accordingly, the success of our first mushroom farming motives us to continue to farm and give training to young people and farmers in the coming days.
Picture Credit: Pratik Kunwar