Srinagar: Farmers taking up mushroom cultivation in Kashmir have mushroomed in recent months as they stride to double their income and remain associated with agriculture throughout the year.
Syed Javaid, an apple grower, would be busy for six months in a year tending to his apple crop, but he had nothing to do for the remaining period of the year.
With the help of agriculture department, he took to mushroom cultivation as an add-on to apple farming, which not only keeps him busy but fetches him good returns as well.
“We are associated with the apple farming. Earlier, I had no work for six months and had to to sit idle at home. Since I started this mushroom unit with the help of agriculture department, it keeps me busy in winter also as mushroom cultivation is indoor farming,” Javaid told PTI.
Javaid said he was thankful to the agriculture department for showing the farmers a way to keep him productively engaged in winter months.
Sheikh Arshid, another farmer, said by starting mushroom unit, he is now financially better off.
“I got financial stability and its self motivating. This is cost effective also. With an investment of Rs 15,000 and guidance from the department I started this unit,” he said.
Arshid said earlier he was looking for some sort of employment to make ends meet as returns from traditional farming were not remunerative enough.
“Now I am financially secure. While traditional farming in Kashmir is seasonal, Mushroom cultivation can be done several times in a year as one crop is ready to harvest within six to seven weeks,” he added.
Murtaza Ahmad, block agriculture officer, Ganderbal, said the department trains the farmers who are interested in mushroom farming.
“We hold awareness camps regarding mushroom farming for unemployed youth and women. This is the best source of self-employment as farmers cannot work in field during winters. For women farmers it is good as they can established the unit in a single room only,” he said.
The department provides 50 per cent subsidy for setting up mushroom unit which includes 100 bags of compost and casings.
Director, Agriculture, Chaudhary Mohd Iqbal said the aim and mission of the department is to go for mushroom cultivation throughout the year.
“There is a huge demand of mushrooms. Earlier, we relied on import of mushrooms but now we have significant production done locally,” he said.
Iqbal said the mushroom growth would not be a success story without the cooperation from farmers and constant efforts of the agriculture department.
“We are grateful to the farmers who have taken keen interest in mushroom farming. We have established 1,400 mushroom units during this year (2022-2023) and we have set a target of increasing 20 per cent units every year,” he added.