Bharati- Housewife Turned Mushroom Farmer BIPF Encouraging Women Of Odisha

Project Unnati, under the Bansidhar & Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF), the social development arm of Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys Limited (IMFA) is an integrated capacity building initiative that empowers women through two empowerment models: economic empowerment and social empowerment.

Varun Upadhyay
New Update

Bharati Mohanata, a 26-year-old housewife turned mushroom farmer, has made the best out of available resources in her village Mahanta Sahi, which is a small hamlet of Kaliapani village of Sukinda block, Jajpur district of Odisha. Though unfamiliar with growing mushrooms, she became a farmer after receiving training in mushroom cultivation under the “Project Unnati” promoted by Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation( BIPF).

”My husband borrowed Rs 2,000 from me today. Not long ago, I used to plead with him for a few hundred rupees to buy essentials from the weekly haat,” she said, as she moved around her small 750 sq ft mushroom orchard happily displaying haystacks, placed on racks with oyster mushrooms popping out. She didn’t speak much about how much she has saved in six months and dodged the question like a smart entrepreneur, but her evasive smile indicated that she was happy with her earnings. 

Mushroom cultivation comes with its own challenges, be it a struggle for the spawn, polybags or technical interventions to get a good yield. Bharati was no exception. She did vegetable farming in the backyard to support her family. Still unhappy, she was looking for other alternatives but was also unwilling to travel away from the village and family to earn more. This is when she came across “Project Unnati” promoted by Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF), a livelihood opportunity based on the promotion of mushroom cultivation among the SHG members of the Kaliapani region. BIPF has been holding sessions for women in the area and carrying out various training programs. BIPF pitched in to provide resources and timely guidance to Bharati just like with many other women in the village. 

Bharati started with a 10-day training in mushroom cultivation (paddy straw and oyster) provided by BIPF in collaboration with SB RSETI in February 2019. After completing the training program, she set up straw beds for cultivation but got poor yield. Without losing hope, she kept on working relentlessly and increased to 10 beds in her backyard by using the traditional method. Queries from the neighbourhood poured in, knowing that she is producing mushroom. She started selling the produce and received returns. Eventually, she increased the number of beds to 40. 

In April 2019, with BIPF effort, she availed a scheme of the Horticulture Department for commercial scale mushroom cultivation. She was provided with infrastructure for the 750 square feet shed worth ₹2 lakhs and she also invested ₹60,000 in fencing, installation of iron racks etc. inside the shed.

Since July 2019, Bharati is running a commercial operation where she places 80-110 beds in each cycle and earns ₹ 9,500 per month. Since standard mushroom cultivation is conducted over eight months in a year and the winter months are unproductive, she now uses the facility for oyster farming, utilising her additional knowledge of oyster mushroom farming during the winter months of November to February and earns Rs 3,000-4,000 per month. She is happy that she gets to sell all her produce without much effort. Timely guidance and support related to marketing, technical and procurement of spawn etc. by BIPF team has made her village venture successful. She is uninhibited in her praise for this change brought by Bansidhar and Ila Panda Foundation (BIPF).

More women and households have joined mushroom farming in the village. With the substantial yield expected from these farms, there is a need for a bigger market. Bharati’s husband Krushna, smart to recognize an opportunity, is already planning to open a shop in the nearby market for selling mushrooms from these women entrepreneurs.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by CSRLive Staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds | Source: Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Limited|