Beating all odds, mushroom cultivation in Kinnaur district under the pilot project of National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) has witnessed a successful start transforming the lives of farmers.

The objective of the project under NICRA is to enhance the resilience of Indian agriculture to climate variability and climate change through strategic research on adaptation and mitigation.

It further, intends to validate and demonstrate climate resilient technology on farmer’s fields.

The project, scripted success with the efforts of the Regional Horticultural Research and Training Station, KVK Sharbo in Reckong Peo of Kinnaur district that has adopted Telangi village of Kinnaur district under NICRA where the mushroom unit is running effectively.

Promoting it as a viable option for diversification, Chattar Singh Negi, a resident of Telangi who is the caretaker of the mushroom unit, said, “The unit is being run as a part of community activity, associating around 20 families who have been trained, under this project.

The unit since last December has produced over one quintal of mushroom, which is being sold in the market for Rs 30 per 200 gms packing.”

Already a progressive farmer who is into apple and vegetable production, he said that the mushroom cultivation, which is an indoor activity is viable means of livelihood for the women and elderly.

The returns are also good, as according to an estimate 200 kg of bags can produce 2 quintals of mushroom in three months, which can fetch around Rs Two Lakh, he added.

Situated at 2,121.4 meters above sea level, the Regional Horticultural Research and Training Station, KVK Sharbo Associate Director (R and E) Dr Shashi Kumar Sharma said, “While Telangi village was adopted to undertake the project, however, other individuals from adjoining villages Sharbo, Shudarang, Kothi, Khwangi, Powari have also been trained and are well equipped for mushroom cultivation.”

Initially, there were a few challenges that included maintaining temperature and humidity, as the area falls in the dry, temperate and mid hill zone facing harsh winters, he said.

“Efforts were made to maintain the temperature and humidity, keeping in view the two kinds of houses in the area, made of mud and wood (humidity issue) and other concrete (temperature issue). Poly-sheets were used to insulate the former kind of houses and gunny bags to insulate the latter,” he said.

A mix of progressive farmers as well as those living Below Poverty Line (BPL) was involved and KVK provided the farmers with technical and financial support.

“In future, we intend to provide training and technical support to more farmers along with exposure visits to already running mushroom units, to lend a boost to mushroom cultivation in the district,” he said.

Gajender Singh Negi a farmer from Shudrang village who has keenly picked up mushroom cultivation, said, “I intend to take-up mushroom cultivation in a big way from March and constructing infrastructure in such a way that it can be grown around the year by controlling the temperature.”