D. Radhakrishnan

But people engaged in its cultivation are very few

Udhagamandalam: The demand is good and the conditions here are ideal but the persons engaged in the cultivation of mushroom are very few. This has become a cause of concern to farm observers in general and horticulturists in particular here. Experts are of the view that the Nilgiris is one of the best places in India for the cultivation of Agaricus Bisporus, popularly known as the white button mushroom. Pointing out that the white button mushroom was the most popular variety all over the world, the experts told The Hindu that the scope for cultivating it was enormous in the Nilgiris. The three major requirements for mushroom cultivation are compost, spawn and casing soil and if proper care is taken in their preparation one could be more or less certain of achieving optimum yields with financially satisfying results. Asked why the people of the district were not coming forward to take up mushroom cultivation in a big way, Assistant Director of Horticulture A.J. Jagadeesh Kumar said though commercial cultivation of button mushrooms commenced in the Nilgiris during 1976 it had not become popular among farmers owing to a variety of reasons. Among them were high investment, high operating cost and fear of crop loss. Stating that mushrooms could be cultivated round the year and employment could be provided to many, Mr. Kumar said the department was doing everything possible to boost cultivation . As on date there are about 11 units which produce between 3,000 and 4,000 kg daily. Three more units are in the process of being put up. However, even that will not significantly help reduce the supply-demand gap.