Mushroom: Food of Gods
Mushroom Development Foundation, MDF, is a citizen based organization, which establishes rights to livelihood, mainly among the small and marginal farmers as well as producers. It also provides nutritious food security to the citizens, since 1994, using mushroom crops as the tool.
“The market of mushrooms is growing at a much faster rate as compared to its growth in production. The initiative of MDF is to build up a strong network among the farming communities in the modern marketing system, exposing the small farmers to the market economy,” commented Pranjal Baruah, (also an Ashoka Fellow) General Secretary, MDF highlighting the demand and supply of Mushrooms.
MDF’s mission is to educate and change the existing revenue share from less than 30% from the consumers to go up to 70% or more to the small & marginal producers to concentrate on mushrooms as a crop. Through ideas of ‘Grow Your Own Mushroom Campaign’ GYOM-C Mass popularization of mushroom and Eco-Friendly Integrated Livelihood Mission (E-FILM) making producer groups control their collection & distribution system.
The nutrient composition of mushrooms has made it one of the most desired foods in our world today and is the cheapest means of protein. As most of the food available in the markets, like vegetables, milk and milk products, meat, fish, etc. are highly adulterated with chemicals and preservatives; it is seen as an alternative grown by trained farmers, which is free from chemical and good for human health.
Mr Spon Kharkngi, showing and demonstrating his mushrooms cultivation near Nongpoh
It acts as an antidote for host of ailments from diabetes, restrains blood clots in veins of heart patients, hypertension and many more. Its cultivation is considered prospective due its low input cost as well as fast and high yielding capacity. It is easy to cultivate, throughout the year with a minimum land requirement and abundant availability of raw materials.
MDF brought in various farmers from Ri-bhoi District to Nongpoh, Meghalaya. The Eco-Friendly Integrated Livelihood Mission (E-FILM) workshop is designed to reach out to the farmers and focus on improving their income through additional livelihood opportunities. Since October 2014, with the active participation of the Meghalaya Basin Development Unit (MBDU) has made MDF reached out to various Panchayats from 39 villages under the Umling block.
Some of the young farmers and entrepreneurs reading the various programs outlines and survey forms handed to them.
E-FILM, tries to organize the small and micro farmers, entrepreneurs into producer groups, companies by establishing a self-governing collection and distribution system for getting the best benefit in a sustainable manner for their livelihood activities. Making processing facilities feasible near the production areas. Further E-FILM finds means for the stakeholders of the market to make the processing unit sustainable and generate jobs.
The Enterprise Facilitation Center (EFC) at Umling Block is assisting the smooth functioning of the E-FILM activities by providing the infrastructural support. GIVE2Asia sanctuary fund has extended collaborative support to initiate the ideas. Further, several individual and private organizations have provided valued assistance in bringing E-FILM to Ri-Bhoi district, Meghalaya.
Mr. Pranjal Baruah, General Secretary innaugurating the informal workshop at Nongpoh, Meghalaya
Ri-Bhoi district is also called Garden of Eden of the North East. It has hills and valleys. At the same time one of the most diverse rich districts in North East India with terrific soil fertility and agro-climatic conditions for any horticulture crop to flourish, it is located near Guwahati and Shillong.
The workshop on training of village leaders started with a practical demonstration on Leadership Training, Mushroom Production, Survey and Resource Mapping. The practical training process is to serve the community in solving some of the critical issues faced for a long time mainly towards the socio- economic sustainable or incremental income was focused.
Mr. Wanphai Nongrum with the various participants during his introduction.
The concept of E-FILM and the objective of the program were outlined by Pranjal Baruah while the training on community leadership building was given by Mr. Wanphai Nongrum from Shillong.
In both theory and practical training programs, the village leaders were given training on capacity building in leadership, conducting surveys and imparted skills for mushroom production technology.
The various mushrooms spawn being cultivated within the simple bamboo and mud construction
Finally, free spawn and other planting materials were distributed among the participants. The village leaders are to start up mushroom demonstration units to create awareness among the hundred families they are going to serve. They will also distribute a Khasi booklet developed by MDF on E-FILM explaining the vision and objectives of E-FILM and its strategy, explaining how it will bring the community together to carry out business, important of mushroom as a super food, cultivation and benefits for a sustainable income. At the same the existing livelihoods activities will be measured and skilled leaders in the community will be identified to carry the business forward by the village leaders. It is a continuous capacity building and community enterprise development process which will be ongoing.
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