Small and marginal farmers in India face many challenges when they try to drive more income from their farms – limited acreage under agriculture, limited irrigation capacities and limited access to credit to source labour, seeds, tech and input costs for their crops.
However, there has been a recent development associated with an unlikely crop for many – mushroom farming. Though mushrooms have been around for quite a while, commercial production of mushrooms picking up pace has been a recent phenomenon. And this is benefiting the exact group mentioned before – small and marginal farmers.
The practical benefits For small and marginal farmers, mushroom cultivation addresses many issues – mushrooms can be grown in a limited space, they don’t need extensive irrigation and they also can be harvested in 3 weeks (after casing). Because of the low turnaround time, a farmer can grow up to 3 or 4 crops in a year. All of these factors mean that growing mushrooms is a fantastic value proposition for small and marginal farmers who want to generate income.
Riding the health wave Though earlier restricted to mostly speciality and Chinese restaurants, mushrooms are now being consumed by more people given their nutritional value. Not only are mushrooms low on fat and calories, but they have low cholesterol as well. In addition, mushrooms are a great source of B Vitamins, Vitamin D, protein among others. Post COVID-19, a renewed focus on health and nutrition have seen many people especially in urban India embrace this ingredient in their daily diets.
Encouraging numbers As per a recent report, India produced 17,100 metric tonnes of mushroom in 2013-14, which increased to 4,87,000 MT by 2018. From 2010-2017, the mushroom industry in India grew at an average growth rate of 4.3% per annum, according to FAO. These numbers coupled with the fact that it is now possible to grow mushrooms virtually anywhere in the country are very encouraging signs.
Overall, mushroom farming is a boon to small and marginal farmers looking for a solid source of sustained income. Not only is it a sustainable development practise, the increase in income because of the price good mushrooms command in the market can truly be a gamechanger for Indian farmers. So if you see a mushroom farm around you, you know you’re seeing the next wave of growth and progress for the owner!
We’re enabling mushroom farmers at Rang De through our Mushroom Fund – run in partnership with Mission Samriddhi, this fund lets you invest in small and marginal mushroom farmers in rural Tamil Nadu.
To invest and find out more, check out our Mushroom Fund by clicking here.