Dr. Parveen Kumar, Dr. R. K. Arora, Dr. Pawan Kumar Located at a distance of about 2.5 kilometers from block Nud of Samba District, village Sarain represents a picturesque; a small hamlet located against the backdrop of Shivalik Hills, with a stream dividing the village vertically and far from the chaotic and congested city life. The village having some odd 100 families majority of them being Rajputs is a unique one in many ways. One can find mutual respect for human values and shared emotions, peoples are very much happy and contented with what they have. Womenfolk still carry on the cultural legacy, the tradition of ‘Purdah’ system; hesitate to sit on chair in front of their elders. They do not see it as an infringement on their personal liberty; but for them it is a sort of respect for their elders. Mushroom refers to the fruiting bodies of a fungus, just like mangoes, apples and oranges are the fruiting bodies of their respective trees. A mushroom is a kind of fungus with the Latin name of Agaricus bisporus. Although cultivation of mushroom has been in practice since 200 years but on a commercial scale its cultivation is recent. The three types of mushroom grown in the country are White Button Mushroom, Dhingri (oyster) and paddy straw mushroom. Mushroom is a low fat and sugar, but rich in protein and fibre diet very useful for Anemic, Diabetic and Obese persons. It is also a rich source of Vitamin B2 and B3. It is a flourishing enterprise for unemployed youth and marginal and small farmers. The present article is a story of village Sarain and how mushroom cultivation has changed the fortunes of youth of this village. Initially few families were cultivating mushroom for commercial purposes. But now with the intervention by Farmer ‘FIRST’ programme of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu, almost every family is producing mushroom for at least for their self consumption. Most of them are earning rupees in lakhs within a short period of three to four months. Location: Village Sarain is located at a distance of near about 13 kilometers from Samba city. One has to turn left from Mansar Morh and reach main market of Nud Block. After crossing bridge next to Nud, one has to again turn left to reach Sarain. Thereafter while driving for about 2.5 kilometers on the curvy road to Sarain one can see lush green fields, semi Kucha to Pucca houses, some shade net structures, some goat rearers and livestock mostly cows. Cropping pattern: The cropping pattern of the village comprises of maize as food crop along with fodder like Bajra in Kharif and wheat as the major food crop along with oats as fodder in Rabi season. Although some people with assured source of irrigation grow Barseem also for fodder purpose. Some farmers of the village also grow pulses like mash and moong during summer and lentils during winter. Livestock: Livestock is an important component in the life of these peoples. Although buffaloes are few in number but every family in the village owns one or two cows. Mostly these are Desi exotic breeds with very low milching capacity ranging from 4 to 5 litres per day. A few farmers also are involved in goat rearing in the village. Mushroom cultivation: About seventy percent of the families in the village are now taking to Mushroom (White Button) cultivation. Many of them have taken this on a large scale. What is interesting is that majority of youth are doing this business. Infact they have taken this as an enterprise and are earning 1.5 to 2 lakh per season. The mushroom crop has a growing season of about four months that starts from end of October and lasts till end of February. This is the time when the temperature and humidity for growing mushroom is optimum. For the villagers, the process of mushroom growing starts from end of the September when they start making compost for growing mushroom. They make compost from wheat straw, animal feed, urea, poultry excreta and gypsum. The whole mixture is made into a heap usually five feet wide and five feet high. It is kept moist and based on the moisture requirements water is sprayed regularly on the mixture. After the mixture is made into a heap, the process of turning starts. The turnings are given to mix all the components thoroughly. The first turning is given on sixth day, second on tenth day, third on thirteenth day, fourth on sixteenth day, fifth on nineteenth day, sixth on twenty second day and seventh an twenty fifth day. The last and final eighth turning is given on twenty eighth day. Thereafter the seed is mixed with the compost. Usually one kilogram of seed is mixed with one quintal of compost. This is than filled in polythene bags with each bag weighing somewhat five to seven kilogram. Caesing is also done. Caesing is done with a mixture of old well rotten Farm Yard Manure and soil. This 2 to 3 centimeter layer of Caesing is applied on the polythene bags and bags are daily given water with the help of sprayer with zero pressure so as not to damage the fungus. The room where the mushroom is grown has a temperature of 25 degrees centigrade and moisture of 80 to 85 per cent. Value addition in Mushroom: Under Farmer ‘FIRST’ programme of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu, regular training programmes are being conducted on value addition in mushrooms. Under the training programme women folk are being trained on how to make pickle out of mushroom. The mushroom pickle has a very high demand and is sold at rupees 300 to 400 per kilogram thereby fetching good income to them. Marketing of mushroom: Most of the mushroom growers send their produce to nearby district of Udhampur. The mushroom growers usually collect their produce weighing more than one quintal and send it to Udhampur. They have also arranged a special van for the marketing of their produce. The van operates on a no profit, no loss basis. In the market after the selling the product and paying for the fuel cost of van as well as market commission which is rupees seven per quintal; the amount is shared by the growers on the basis of quantity of mushroom they contributed. (The authors are associated with the Farmer ‘FIRST’ programme of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu)
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