Women from self-help groups (SHGs) in the neighbouring Uttarakhand villages Dunda and Udalka received a ten-day training on straw-based mushroom cultivation to generate additional income. Mushrooms are a nutritious, high-protein food that are considered an expensive delicacy.
The climate in Uttarakhand is very conducive to their growth. Initially, the women were a bit apprehensive, however, Amrita SeRVe health worker Subhadra Joshi and village coordinator Ashish convinced the eleven women of the Surkhanda SHG in Dunda and thirteen women from the Amrita SHG in Udalka of the economic viability of mushroom cultivation and sparked their enthusiasm.
The training was held from the 7th to 17th of April in the Mata Amritanandamayi Math’s (MAM) Dunda ashram in association with the block development officers. After the workshop, the women were provided with all the material required for growing: plastic bags, mushroom spawn, and wheat straw. Within 10 days both SHGs completed the preparations of their beds. In Dunda they prepared 20 beds and 122 in Udalka. A harvest of two to three kilos of mushrooms can be expected from each bag after just 15 days.
The women plan to sell their produce on the local vegetable market or introduce the high protein food by visiting the households in their village door-to-door. Deeksha Devi is very excited “We are embarking on this new venture with great confidence. Nobody here grows mushrooms for sale. An assured market is waiting for us.”
How to grow Oyster mushrooms?
The wheat straw is chopped into small pieces and pasteurised. When the straw cools down into room temperature, it is packed tightly into strong plastic bags and the mushroom spawn distributed throughout the moist straw. Holes are jabbed into the bags to let some air in. The mushrooms should be hung in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight. The spawn will develop into mycelium which spreads like furry, white cobwebs inside the bag.
After around two to three weeks the mushrooms are ready to be harvested. To harvest the mushrooms, give them a twist at the base. This ensures that you leave the very bottom of the mushroom still in the bag. You want to leave that part behind as it is needed for the subsequent flushes of mushrooms. If you keep the mushrooms moist and in suitable conditions, you should get three or four flushes of mushrooms from one straw bag.