Agriculture and Farming Technology Updates

Mushroom farming in Kashmir’s Pulwama made her the first

Mushroom farmer Nilofar started with a room built on the roof of her small house.


Mushroom farming is not common in Kashmir. But she made it a profitable business not only for her, but for others as well.

Mean slender, 24-year-old Nilofar Jaan may seem like an ordinary girl from a Kashmiri village, but her dreams are extraordinary. With the knowledge and experience acquired in just two years, she started dreaming of next level of success. She is the first woman to become a mushroom farmer, thanks to just seven days of training while doing B.Sc (Medical) at Degree College in Pulwama district of Kashmir. Nilofar’s confidence is truly amazing. Nilofar is also pursuing her MA in Library Science and is doubling her mushroom cultivation in two years and also reaping 200 sacks of crop. Nilofar, who does all this on her own, now wants to produce mushrooms from 1000 sacks. Nilofar’s dream is that the button mushroom grown by her is sold in Kashmir and exported to other countries across the border.

mushroom farming

Small start, Big results 

Nilofar, the younger of 4 children of Mohammad Ibrahim Malik of Gongu village of Pulwama, is a hardworking farmer as well as a sensitive and responsible person. Perhaps this is the reason that in view of her work, the Agriculture Department has given one more unit with 100 sacks of mushrooms. Narrating her story of becoming a farmer from a student, Nilofar says that in the last phase of college, the Agriculture Department announced mushroom training, then filled the form for it. Another 11 took the same training, both of whom were students, but only Nilofar started the work. In August 2020, 100 sacks of compost (mushroom seeds) and other materials were purchased at a cost of Rs 15,000. He started with a room built on the roof of her small house. In this room without plastered brick walls, under the light of a bulb, the mushrooms grown in nilofar sacks pluck effortlessly. On teasing about the income earned in mushroom farming, she smiles and tells that due to her little stupidity, the first crop suffered a little loss. It was only a night’s delay and when in the morning she reached the farm to harvest, I saw that the shape of many mushrooms had changed to umbrella. In this way 10-15 kg crop has been spoiled.

mushroom farming

First success story 

Nilofar’s first success came when 24 kg of mushrooms were bought in one go by a wholesaler of Kakpora nearby. Nilofar gave the money she earned to his father as her contribution towards the expenses in the marriage of elder sister Bismillah. Then the mushroom was sold for Rs 300 a kg. After a month, Nilofar also got the benefit of the government scheme. She got all the cost i.e. 15 thousand rupees as subsidy. Nilofar says that all the goods including the sacks of compost for cultivation were provided by the Agriculture Department itself. Three layers are made in a seven kg compost sack. The first two layers are of three kilograms and the last one kilogram of compost. Spawns are laid after each layer. Water is sprayed by hand pump. The first crop is ready in five to six days. In total, around 3 kg of mushrooms come out from one sack in one machine. This compost is prepared by mixing wheat straw, paddy straw, horse manure and urea etc.

mushroom farming

40 more mushroom farmers were inspired by Nilofar 

Seeing Nilofar’s stupendous success in mushroom farming, the same year the department got her 100 more sacks, which she kept as a unit in another room. Nilofar is happy with this but some are also apprehensive. In fact, the success of Nilofar has been seen by the officials of the Agriculture Department as a successful pilot project. Seeing its good results, the department encouraged 40 people to do the same business. Now there are more mushroom growers in the area. Mushroom prices have also come down by almost 50 percent. Although the market is sluggish, Nilofar feels that it was due to the competition created due to many people starting work. The good thing is that Nilofar does not have to go to find customers for mushrooms. The wholesalers or the nearby vegetable vendors themselves come and take the produce from home. Everything in cash, according to what is needed. The quantity of mushrooms is packed in a transparent plastic bag. 

Also Read: Why Osmanabadi Goat is considered better for meat production?

mushroom farming

Mushroom export plan 

Asked about future plans, Nilofar says that more profit is in exporting mushrooms than selling here. Nilofar wants that the present 200 bags should be increased to 1000 bags. For this, the Agriculture Department has been consulted but the space is less. For this, a big hall need to be built in the second part of the house. The big challenge in this is also the packing. The present plastic packing will not work for sending abroad. For that, canned packing of mushrooms will have to be done. At present, it costs Rs 100 to pack a can of 200 grams. Due to this, although the price and cost of mushrooms increases significantly, but mushrooms do not spoil for 3 years. It can be easily reached even in big cities of India. Money will also come in dollars or any other currency when sent abroad. Nilofar says that the mushroom crop is planted twice a year in Kashmir. This happens in the month of August or February. The crop planted in February gives good results because after that the weather starts heating up, germination is quicker and more.

mushroom farming

Temperature control is a challenge 

Apart from packing, the biggest challenge in mushroom farming is the temperature which should neither increase nor decrease. The temperature should be 14 to 17 degree Celsius. In Kashmir, because the weather is cold, a heater has to be installed to keep the temperature right. So while Nilofar was discussing the issues of this plan and business, the rest of the family members were also sitting there. Especially understanding the knowledge, thoughts and dreams of his daughter, her father Mohammad Ibrahim’s face was glowing with happiness. Along with wealth, this work of the daughter has also brought respect and fame. It also gives them more comfort. 

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