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Growing Mushrooms, Becoming Entrepreneurs: Inspiring Story of Murhu Women

In a positive development, the women of Murhu block, Khunti district, Jharkhand, are taking up mushroom cultivation actively. Earlier these women were engaged in household work or helped their husbands in the fields. Now they cultivate oyster mushroom with help from the district administration and have turned into entrepreneurs.
Indian Masterminds Stories

There is large scale migration of people from rural areas as well as semi-urban areas to big cities for livelihood opportunities. To stem it, self-employment is the only solution. But self-employment is not easy because of problems of funds, proper training and lack of business know how.

However, in Khunti district of Jharkhand, winds of change are blowing and taking the lead this time are its women. In Murhu block of the district, women are turning into farmers and cultivating mushroom as a means of self-employment. The district administration is going all out to encourage and help them under the able leadership of 2014-batch IAS officer Shashi Ranjan.

Indian Masterminds spoke to Mr. Ranjan to find out more about this positive change in the district.

2014-batch IAS officer Shashi Ranjan, DC Khunti

PROMOTING MUSHROOM CULTIVATION

Mushroom cultivation is being promoted big time by the district administration in order to make women of Self Help Group (SHGs) strong and self-reliant.

16,000 oyster mushroom bags were provided to the women farmers of 400 Sakhi Mandals (SHGs). Apart from this, they were given 5 days panchayat level training on mushroom cultivation. Financial assistance is also provided as and when needed.

GROWING MUSHROOMS

Mr. Shashi Ranjan told Indian Masterminds, “I have identified Murhu block as a cluster for mushroom cultivation. The land here is not normally suitable for agriculture. Irrigation facilities are also not so good. So, after the ‘kharif’ crop season ends, lots of people, especially women, migrate to other places to find work. So, we wanted to provide an alternate livelihood opportunity to the women at their own places through mushroom cultivation.”

BENIFITTING WOMEN& CHILDREN

With limited livelihood options in the village, mushroom cultivation has opened a new avenue for increasing incomes as it has a ready market. The women can easily find local buyers for their produce.

Since mushroom cultivation is neither labour intensive nor requires high investment, so even single women can opt for it.Women of Self Help Groups are working to provide financial support to their families by cultivating mushrooms on a large scale. Due to this, as the earnings increase, there is a change in the education and living conditions of the children, too.

Most of the women who are cultivating mushrooms were engaged in domestic work before and, also, helped the men in agricultural work. But now,they are becoming successful and self-sufficient through mushroom cultivation.

WOMEN BECOMING ENTREPRENEURS

The district administration keeps training and updating the women farmers about the production and profits of the different types of mushrooms and its market availability.

Mushroom is a high yielding and fast-growing crop and a great source of potassium, iron, protein etc. Oyster mushrooms are a rich source of protein and fibre and contain iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus besides folic acid and other vitamins.

Unlike vegetables or cereal crops, mushrooms do not require much manual labour, financial investment or time. The crop, which has a short growth cycle,is a good cultivation option for women to become financially independent. As can be seen in Murhu block of Khunti, where oyster mushroom cultivation has turned many women into entrepreneurs.


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