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Landless labourer from Bihar becomes a successful mushroom farmer

May 16, 2007

Intelligence shines everywhere, whether it is in the classrooms, in the jungles or in the fields. However it is those who shine in the classrooms who tend to walk away with tag ‘intelligent.’ But top academic honours only show one aspect of intelligence. I wrote a detailed article on this subject for the Deccan Herald which I have posted here.

This post is about a simple village woman, Lalmuni Devi of Azadnagar village in Patna district. She was just a labourer but today she is a successful farmer. So successful in fact that this semi-literate woman from Bihar is among top 25 Asian farmers today. She was just a daily wage earner but when she turned to mushroom farming after she was taught the skill under a programme conducted by the Indian Council of Agriculture and Research (ICAR), she made it! The fact that she was successful inspite of owning no land of her own is very creditable. Even more creditable, she invested just Rs 500 and started out by growing mushrooms in her own house! And that too by using her own unique and original farming methods. Her success brought her recognition. As the article in The Tribune says:

Today her name figures among the top 25 Asians in Mexican Gallery of the CIMMYT, a well known Mexico based institute engaged largely in research for improvement of maize and wheat crops….Lalmuni says that she uses balls of wheat husks and rotten hay to grow mushrooms. Packed in polythene bags, the balls are arranged in rows under her thatched roof which nourish the oyster mushroom shoots in humid setting…

Mushroom farming is not easy. As this article explains:

Between 1993 and 1998 at least 35 companies, including the Tatas, the Thapars, and Hindustan Lever, got into the business of mushroom farming. But within 5 years all the 35 companies have closed down. The reasons are not difficult to fathom. Mushroom farming in the first place is a 20-hour job in a day. Secondly, unless one is passionately involved in the cultivation of mushrooms, it is an uphill task to survive in this venture.

We shouldn’t be too surprised about the fact that even though Lalmuni has got international recognition for her work, she hasn’t got an awards from the Indian government. This inspite of the fact that agriculture and agro-based industries have been identified as critical in improving the economic scenario in Bihar. Lalmuni should in fact be invited to various forums by the Bihar government so that she can guide and inspire other people. Lalmuni’s story is inspiring, and already 22 other women from her village have taken up mushroom farming.

Ofcourse, Lalmuni cannot achieve what rich farmers like Malwinder Bhinder who own large tracts of land have achieved. He is making a lot of money from mushroom farming. after investing over Rs 6 crore! Today Bhinder grows mushrooms round the year and is exporting to western markets as that is where the money lies.

Lalmuni cannot dream of becoming a millionnaire. She has hardly any land to call her own. That is probably why she is being ignored by the Bihar government. But while Lalmuni may be making small amounts of money, today she can be proud of the fact that she has been internationally recognised as a successful farmer…and that makes her a role model for other women.

(Photo sourced from ndtv)

Related Reading: Tribals with high Mensa scores need help

11 Comments leave one →
  1. manauwar ansari permalink
    May 24, 2010 2:36 pm

    Dear Sir/Mam
    Plz give me details of masroom buseness, how can i start this buseness & witch place we supply masroom in jharkhand,etc


  2. Rohit Parasar permalink
    October 23, 2010 10:18 am

    Thank you so much for posting such a story. It is really encouraging and motivating. In India people are unable to get a there livelihood even after graduating form renowned institutions or universities. There exist endless opportunity in every corner of India but, the only thing needed in a vision and to do something passionately. The story makes the point very strongly.

    And no doubt mushroom farming is a very fruitful business. In fact, India agri sector is untouched and has huge potential to grow (especially in northern, eastern states).

  3. Asit Raj permalink
    June 30, 2011 4:25 pm

    Sir, how can start please give me details like Area, Working Capital, where i found seed, proper instruction etc.

    Gaya (Bihar)

  4. Deepak permalink
    July 27, 2011 12:02 pm

    Plz give me details of masroom business, how can i start this buseness & which place we supply masroom in Bihar near to bhagalpur, please give me details like Area, Working Capital, where i’ii get seeds, proper instruction etc.


  5. April 22, 2012 11:43 am

    plz gives details about mushroom business, i’m anil kumar singh, completed BE-bioinformatics at chennai. i have done project under the mushroom. so i have interested in mushroom business. please give me details and proper instruction etc.

  6. Sushil Kr. dubey permalink
    June 16, 2012 10:17 am

    Where and who will provide help in marketing of mushroom cultivated in Chhapra? I will be thankful if suchinformation is given to me. I wish to start a co-operative organisation in Natawar Semaria, Dist. Chhpra.

  7. Sushil Kr. dubey permalink
    June 16, 2012 12:08 pm

    Dear Sirs,

    I am a technocrat and interested in mushroom business. Initially I want to start as mushroom grower along with my co-villagers. Location is Village – Natawar Semaria, Dist. Chhapra, Bihar. Please help me in this matter. I have the following questions in my mind and I will be thankful if you answer the same.

    1. Is there any nodal agency in Patna or any other place in Bihar or Varanasi, UP with which I can have a tie up for annual supply of raw Mashroom?
    2. What is the shelf life for freshly plucked mushroom from the farm?
    3. What are the packaging methods so that it is transported to nearby place within 8 hours (shelf life)?
    4. Can you provide me the detail of plant and machineries for processing of mushrooms? If so, please let me know.


    Sushil Kr. Dubey

    • Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
      June 18, 2012 11:03 am

      @ Sushil Kr. Dubey

      Pardon my presumptuousness in responding to your queries, but I don’t know if either Nita or any of the normal visitors to this blog would be able to provide you the answers. Your best bet would be to seek advice from the Agro-Economic Research Centre for Bihar and Jharkhand (AERC), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, T M Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur 812007, Phone (641) 2427503. They should be able to respond to at least some of your queries, and also direct you to the appropriate nodal agency, if one exists in your state/region.

      The Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Chhapra may also be able to give you some information.

  8. Ashwani sharan permalink
    August 31, 2012 7:21 pm

    I ve read this sucessfull story about the cultivation of maushroom. So sir plzz guide me to how to grow this crop near muzaffarpur n frm where i get d seeds and method of cultivation n supply

  9. reema ruma permalink
    October 19, 2012 1:19 pm

    sir, . . . plz give me detaills of moshroom business how can i start this business and which place we supply moshroom in bihar near to patna plz give me detaills like area working capital,where i ll get seeds proper instruction etc . . . . thanks. . . reema

  10. manjari permalink
    May 27, 2013 5:37 pm

    I want to know is there some processing industry nearby Muzaffarpur in Bihar.Is it profitable to start in that area.What would be the requirements

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