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Exploring New Farming Methods – Mushroom Farming Report and Guideline

Over the last two years, NETIF has been undertaken several training programs in Mushrooms farming in local villages. The aim is to show the villagers alternative and environmentally friendly methods of farming high value crops such as mushrooms. By learning how to cultivate mushrooms, the villages can then set up business and earn income for themselves and this will help eliminate the need to cut wood from the jungles, extend farming land and also produce things like Raski and other non-eco friendly products.

Mushrooms are one of the more highly nutritious and tasty vegetables and are a great substitute for meat, have good value as medicinal crop and also are a high value, high yield crop that are not as labour intensive or as damaging to the environment as things like rice. Studies have revealed that many different techniques for commercial production and cultivation of mushrooms are available to us. Vermi-composting is one of the most popular and productive ways of propagating mushrooms, not only this, but the technology is simple, practical, cheap and most importantly environmentally sustainable.

The overall objective of NETIF’S mushroom training programs are
• To generate awareness about mushrooms and mushroom farming and cultivation and how it can benefit local farmers
• To provide knowledge and impart the skills of mushroom farming to the participants of the training programs
• To provide basic information on carrying out of mushroom cultivation in an organized manner
• To manage the waste generated from the mushroom culture by vermin-composting technology
• To create self employment opportunities and to boost the economical status of the participants
• How to market the product for sale and gain best finical benefits.

Outcomes of the Training Sessions
NETIF has hosted around 10 training programs and demonstrations in mushroom farming in Chisapani, Nagarkot and Dhulikhel. The sessions help to train participants in different methods of mushroom farming, the importance of vermin-composting and waste management.

Overall, mushroom cultivation and vermiculture enterprises seem to have great potential for the creation of sustainable livelihoods in both rural and semi urban areas of the Kathmandu Valley. Not only this but NETIF has also focused on training women as well as mushroom farming is the ideal way for the empowerment of Nepal’s rural women which has the potential in the long term to bring about social and economic change for the better.

What is Vermi-composting?
Vermi-compost is the process of composting utilizing various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by a species of earthworm. Containing water-soluble nutrients, vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.

How are Mushrooms Cultivated?
Mushroom production is completely different from growing green plants. Mushrooms do not contain chlorophyll and therefore depend on other plant material for their food. The part of the organism that we see and call a mushroom is really just the fruiting body. Unseen is the mycelium—tiny threads that grow throughout the substrate and collect nutrients by breaking down the organic material. This is the main body of the mushroom. Generally, each mushroom species prefers a particular growing medium, although some species can grow on a wide range of materials.
The best and most productive way to grow mushrooms is indoors. In Nepal farmers use barns made of bamboo and straw which help to maintain the correct temperature, light levels and humidity needed for high yields. Mushrooms grow in bags or nets which are hung from the rafters. The correct substrate and nutrients are placed inside along with the mushroom spores which are then left to grow.

These are the steps in mushroom production—a cycle that takes about 15 weeks (time varies by species) from start to finish.
• Choosing a growing medium
• Pasteurizing or sterilizing the medium
• Seeding the sacks or nets with spawn (material from mature mushrooms grown on sterile media)
• Maintaining optimal temperature, moisture, and other conditions for mycelium growth and the conditions that favor fruiting (This is the most challenging step.)
• Harvesting, packaging, and selling the mushrooms
• Cleaning the facility and beginning again

NETIF’s Vision for Mushroom Farming
• For the promotion of local ‘organic’ products that can be utilized in the local hotel industry
• To provide a use for organic waste produced by local tourism industries and villagers in the making of compost and vermicastings
• By training and providing ongoing support to the locals we hope to build an ongoing and productive relationship with them
• To help poor village communities establish a sustainable form of income
• To get youths involved in the production process and provide them livelihood
• To produce and manage on a local scale a fresh, organic, price competitive and easily saleable product
• To endeavour to support sustainable tourism development that can support mushroom production
• To build a consolidated effort through the community, tourism sectors and relevant government bodies for the development of the project and tourist destination

Ongoing Support and Motivation Network
To make sure that our projects take off and that the villagers make use of the knowledge imparted to them via the training programs, NETIF has hired an expert in the field of Mushroom Farming to act as a liaison and to make regular visits to the villages to make sure the farmers are using the correct methods, to help with troubleshooting and problems and also to give the villagers motivation to follow through on the training. NETIF is funding this expert/liaison for the period of one year.



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