Kerala

Earnings mushroom for this entrepreneur

Shije Varghese in her mushroom farm at Eramalloor in Alappuzha.  

Shije Varghese, a homemaker from Eramalloor in Alappuzha, got into mushroom cultivation in 2007 since she wanted to use her spare time productively.

Fourteen years later, she has bagged the best mushroom farmer award of the State government. From mushroom cultivation to spawn production and providing training to budding mushroom farmers, the 54-year-old entrepreneur earns between ₹1 lakh and ₹1.5 lakh a month.

“I had lots of free time and was feeling unoccupied. When I talked to my family about starting an enterprise, they supported me but could not pinpoint an area to begin with. The turning point came when I attended a training programme organised by the Rural Technology Centre, Aroor, on mushroom cultivation,” she says. Ms. Varghese, who practises organic farming, started mushroom cultivation on an experimental basis with five to 10 beds on the balcony of her house.

She now owns a multi-storey shed, which can house 2,000 beds of Oyster mushroom and Milky mushroom at a time. The biotech system helps cultivate Oyster mushrooms round the year, while tissue culture labs help produce spawn.

“We have gone through several testing situations and have emerged successful. On one occasion, 200 of our mushroom beds developed fungal infection. We did not lose heart and came up with practical solutions,” she says. Her husband, T.J. Thankachan, son, Anto Joseph, and daughter, Rose Mary, lend her ample support in the endeavour.

Brand name

The brand name Coonfresh helps her market mushroom and value-added products across the State.

Ms. Varghese trains people on mushroom cultivation and says her aim is to equip small-scale farmers find a source of income through different forms of mushroom cultivation, spawn production and organic waste conversion. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, she is using digital platforms for training.

Raichel Sophia Alexander, Assistant Director of Agriculture, termed Ms. Varghese farm a ‘model farm.’

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 4:47:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/earnings-mushroom-for-this-entrepreneur/article33645479.ece

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