Berhampur: Mushroom farming can play a key role in creating employment opportunities for women in rural areas. Considering the climatic condition of the district, Ganjam District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has decided to promote mushroom farming in a big way under Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM) through women self-help groups (SHGs) of Mission Shakti, a movement that helped empowerment of women at the grassroots level by engaging women in a range of diversified livelihood activities.
Ganjam is an agriculture prone district where nearly 80 per cent of the population depend on agriculture and other allied activities. The climatic condition of this southern district is quite favorable for mushroom cultivation throughout the year. The main input of mushroom farming is paddy straw, which is abundantly available in the district. Besides, mushroom spawn bottles are also available in the locality.
Considering these favorably factors needed to promote mushroom cultivation and capabilities of the women self groups, who in the past successfully handled various economic activities, the District Rural Development Agency has come up an action plan to promote mushroom farming through the members of SHGs of Mission Shakti, stated Shinde Dattatraya Bhausaheb, Project Director, DRDA, Ganjam.
The DRDA is planning to construct at least 503 mushroom farms with one model farm in each GP through MGNREGS by March this year. The farm will be managed by the members of women self-help groups. So far, 150 farming units have been operational in the district involving 150 SHGs.
For mushroom cultivation, a financial support of Rs 1 lakh is being given to SHGs under the COVID assistance package, which Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had recently announced to revive the economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The beneficiaries will also be provided 40% infrastructure cost out of the special Horticulture Assistant from HNM (National Horticulture Mission) from state after due approval.
Necessary technical supports are being given to the women farmers by the horticulture department. The marketing of mushroom will be done by Sabuja Ganjam Producer Company, a company run the SHGs.
Besides mushroom cultivation, the DRDA has also planned to promote poultry in a large scale through SHGs. It is giving 5000 backyard poultry sheds to SHGs under MGNREGS and assures them forward and backward linkage for desi birds.
The women SHGs bring income to their families with productive activities ranging from traditional work in fields to working in agro based industries.
Women empowerment through Mission Shakti movement is one of the major success stories of Odisha under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Promoting livelihoods of women at the grassroots level has been prime focus of this silent movement that Odisha has been witnessing over the last two decades.
Recognizing the role that women play in the development and transformation of families, communities and States, the Odisha Government has always given tremendous importance to women centric policies and programmes.
Mission Shakti mentors women SHGs enabling their involvement into various sectors towards economic sustainability by providing various skills and linking with financial provisions and marketing opportunities.