By Nabraj Khanal
Simply, mushroom is an edible fungus. In Nepal, it is a fast growing sector of agriculture because of its short high returns. Nepal is also a country where mushroom can be cultivated throughout the year under natural environmental conditions. So, mushroom cultivation could be the milestone in the modernisation of traditional agriculture system of Nepal.
Mushroom cultivation was initiated by the Division of Plant Pathology, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) in 1974. At present commercial cultivation of Oyster, Button, Shitake, Ganoderma, Straw mushroom has been initiated in different parts of the country which shows positive upheaval in the economic status of farmers.
Mushroom has very high nutritional value. It has plenty of nutrients and popularly called “vegetable meat”. It consists of protein, Carbohydrate, Vitamins, Minerals, Fibre, etc. Also, it is almost fat free. The fatty acid found is in unsaturated form which is essential for our body. It could be the very good solution energy food crisis.
This is the most cultivated mushroom. Around 85% of total production is occupied by this mushroom. It is highly suitable for distance marketing and processing. Production cost is little high but give better profit.
The mid hills of Nepal are the most appropriate areas for oyster mushroom production and therefore the mushroom technology has been expanded widely in those villages. This is highly suitable for poor landless farmers.
This mushroom is one of the high costly foods in the world. International market of this mushroom is quite bright. In Nepal the markets of shitake mushroom in developing day by day. Its cultivation required very precise environment, so skill labour is required of is better benefit.
At the current scenario of unemployment and low output agriculture sector, mushroom cultivation can play a very important role. One of the attractive factors towards mushroom farming is the short time period between cultivation and harvesting where people don’t require much more initial investment and can be grown with locally available resources. Most of the farmers did not have strong economic background. They had to take loans and wanted to repay it as soon as possible. Mushroom farming gave them quick profit. Mushroom farming can be the good source to attract youth of today’s generation and better way to upheaval the economic status of smallholder farmers. Technology transfer is also a challenging issue considering the literacy level of farmer and long history of dependency on traditional method.
Although youth accounts for more than 40% of the population many youth are attracted towards foreign jobs which create a limitation for Nepalese development. Youth are not attracted towards the potential of agricultural sector thinking farming as an unglamorous profession, and they don’t see any pride in agricultural sector. What youth of today is lacking is the motivation and entrepreneurship to see the potentiality and prospects of agriculture. Youth are source of innovation and good reference for others to get inspired.
The farmers of many districts, mainly Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kavre, Chitwan, Kaski have grown mushrooms in a small scale and have benefited highly. They have managed to adopt the technology in a simple way whereby they can afford to invest on a small scale. They are mainly utilizing the agricultural waste of wheat and paddy straw, and thus mushroom cultivation has improved the living conditions of many poor farmers in Nepal.
The large scale production of mushroom can contribute a large in national GDP and is better source of livelihood betterment of the poor and small farmers. As it have good future scope, entrepreneurship on mushroom sector have low risk and highly profitable. Better technique and processing industries could be the better way for secure large scale production.
(The writer can be reached at: Nrkhanal22@gmail.com)