Delhi farmers reap the benefits of temperature-controlled farms


More than a hundred mushroom farms have sprung up in Delhi-NCR in the past two years

It’s a hot June day outside with a temperature of 42°C, but inside the ‘grow room’ at Rameshwar Mushroom Farm it’s dark and the temperature is a pleasant 15°C vs. The bedroom, with its endless rows of iron beds, resembles a gigantic dormitory. Pinheads of white button mushrooms can be seen emerging through the casing soil on the beds.

“We produce over 200 tonnes of white mushrooms and portobello mushrooms throughout the year,” says Amit Bhatnagar, managing partner of Rameshwar Mushroom Farm in the village of Tatesar, about 40 km from Connaught Place, one of of the largest environmentally controlled mushroom farms in Delhi.

Over a hundred mushroom farms have sprung up in Delhi-NCR in the past two years of the outbreak, particularly in Najafgarh, Bawana and Bakhtawar areas outside Delhi. While the majority of these farms are seasonal, growing mushrooms in bamboo and thatch chambers from September to March, there are more than two dozen others, like the one in Bhatnagar, which nurture the mushroom all year. year.

Surprisingly, many farm owners are not just local farmers but also young entrepreneurs from all over Delhi. Not only agriculture, but mushroom cultivation training workshops given by individuals and agricultural institutes around Delhi and NCR are also popular.

“Since Covid-19, there has been a huge demand for mushrooms in the market, and a lot of people think it is a successful business,” says Rakesh Kumar, associate at Rameshwar Mushroom Farm, who quit his job as a manager. network engineer in a multinational. continue farming.

“Button mushrooms represent 97% of our production, while Portobello mushrooms represent the remaining 3%. We sell around 80% of our produce to vegetable and fruit aggregators and the rest to Azadpur Sabzi Mandi,” says Bhatnagar.

Button mushrooms account for nearly 95% of all mushroom cultivation in Delhi, with portobello, milky and oyster mushrooms accounting for the rest. The majority of mushrooms in Delhi are seasonal. While button mushrooms and Portobellos are grown in winter, milk mushrooms and oyster mushrooms are harvested in summer.

Growing demand for training

Narendra Dagar, a seasonal mushroom grower in Dhansa village, Najafgarh, has been teaching townspeople how to grow mushrooms for two years. Its trainees come from Gurugram, Delhi, Noida and other parts of the country, he says.

At his Victory Mushroom Farm and Training Center, he claims to have trained nearly 200 people. Farmers who want to switch from traditional farming to mushroom farming, people who lost their jobs during the epidemic and are looking for a new way to earn money, and young entrepreneurs from all over Delhi are among them. “The demand for training is so high these days that I focus more on instruction than on growing mushrooms,” adds Dagar, who costs ₹2,000 for a day’s basic mushroom growing training.

A boon for small farmers

Seasonal mushroom cultivation, according to Pappan Singh Gehlot of Tigipur village in northwest Delhi, perhaps the capital’s oldest mushroom grower, can be a boon for farmers with tiny land holdings. Between September and March each year, he produces around 60 tons of button mushrooms in 20 bamboo and thatch huts on 2 acres of land, employing around 55 people.

A bamboo house costs around $30,000 to build, compared to a temperature-controlled puf panel mushroom grow room, which costs between ₹15 and ₹25 lakh depending on the size.

“During the season, the average cost of making a kilo of white button mushroom is Rs.50, and the mushrooms can be sold for up to ₹130 per kg, depending on the quality of the mushrooms and the mandi prices .” In the worst case, you can easily earn $30 per kilogram of mushrooms on average,” adds Gehlot, who shot to fame in May 2020 after flying ten of his employees to Bihar during the lockdown.

Farmers can earn up to ₹12 lakh on an acre

“Although growing wheat on an acre is unlikely to generate more than ₹40,000 in profit, growing mushrooms on an acre can easily generate returns of ₹10 lakh to ₹12 lakh.” Also, growing mushrooms is much more labor intensive than traditional farming and requires a lot more staff,” he adds.

The economics of controlled-environment farms, however, work differently, according to Rakesh Kumar of Rameshwar Mushroom Farm, as their production costs are considerably higher. “It costs us around ₹95 to produce one kilogram of mushrooms including the cost of energy, transport and packaging which varies during the year. Due to the oversupply, the Button mushroom market price last summer was ₹160 per kg, this year it is only ₹110.However, as more and more people become aware of the health benefits of mushrooms , we anticipate an increase in demand.”

First published: June 07, 2022, 12:08 IST


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