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Rekha Kumari: A Woman Entrepreneur From Bihar Earns lakhs through Mushroom Cultivation And Empowers Women

Mushroom and other fungi cultivation is known as fungi culture. Fungi can be grown to produce various products, including food, medicine, and other products. Mushrooms are not plants. They require various environmental factors for optimum growth. Plants grow through a process called photosynthesis, which transforms carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into carbohydrates, especially, cellulose. Whereas mushrooms get all their energy and materials from their growth media through the process of biochemical breakdown. Plants get all of their energy and growth materials from sunlight. These elements are required for the growth of mushrooms in indoor trays, outdoor log plantings and wild crops.

Requirements for Mushroom Cultivation

The growth media already contains all the components necessary for growth. Around 95 to 100 per cent relative humidity and substrate moisture levels are ideal for mushroom growth. Mushrooms reproduce using spores rather than seeds. The techniques of mushroom cultivation include the ideal mixture of humidity, temperature, substrate (growth medium), and inoculum (spawn or starter culture). These elements are all needed in indoor trays, outdoor log plantings and wild crops.

Mushroom cultivation and a successful story

The mushroom business is one of the most profitable agribusinesses. It is an alternative source of income for many people in India. The government provides subsidies to help entrepreneurs and also provides free cost training for mushroom cultivation at various training centres.

The mushroom business is one of the most profitable agribusinesses

Rekha Kumari, a 51-year-old homemaker and mother of three from Hathua in Bihar, was very busy until her children grew up and left home for further education. Then she got a lot of free time. She wished to beat the boredom and use her time productively. She learned the scope of mushroom cultivation from the newspaper. Rekha learned about the nutritional benefits and agricultural opportunities of mushrooms.

Rekha Kumari with a variety of mushroom products

Transition From a Homemaker to an Earner

She started with an amount of a thousand rupees and now earns three to four lakh a year from her business. Her husband also encouraged her. She comments,” In the initial years, I had to depend on my husband to invest in my business. But now I have been able to make a steady income and earn around three to four lakh a year.”

Her Training Period

Rekha suffered multiple losses due to a lack of training in the beginning. Later, in 2018, she attended training sessions at Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Sipaya. She was guided by scientist Dr Sanjay Kumar and trained by Dr Dayaram Rao. She started her experiment with oyster mushrooms. She now raises five species of mushrooms in six rooms in her house including button, milky button, shiitake, hericium, and paddy straw mushrooms.

Rekha provides training for people to help them and stand on their feet as she did.

Making value-added products From Mushroom

After attaining success, she began selling value-added products made with mushrooms, such as mushroom powder, ladoos, gulab jamun, biscuits, samosas, pickles, and namkeen.

Rekha provides training for people, particularly women, to help them, stand on their own feet as she did. She gives free online classes to people in different parts of the country and also conducts paid classes at her home every month.

Rekha believes that anyone, especially unemployed women can start mushroom cultivation and make a good living with it, through proper training and hard work.

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