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Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation To Benefit Farmers in Jammu And Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir farmers are excited about the government's announcement to introduce the high-value Shiitake mushroom for commercial farming in the Union Territory. Successful field trials were conducted, and farmers believe it will bring an economic boom to the mushroom cultivation sector.

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Agriculture: Button mushrooms in Jammu
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Farmers engaged in mushroom cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir are upbeat over the government announcement to introduce one of the costliest mushrooms 'Shiitake' for commercial farming in the Union Territory.  The agriculture department will launch commercial farming Shiitake in September after successful field trials of the cultivation of this Japanese-origin variety. "We are happy. I have heard it (Shiitake mushroom) is being launched in September (for commercial farming). We will go for it," Mushroom farmer Rahul Sharma told PTI. Sharma, who owns a 4,000-bag unit in the border belt of Marh, said that it is grown in states like Haryana, but it is good news that it will be grown in Jammu for the first time.

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"Its cost and market value is very good. Farmers would be largely benefited. For Jammu and Kashmir, it will be good to cultivate Shiitake mushroom, as you can grow anywhere due to suitable climate," he added. Like him, Arvind Kumar, who has been into mushroom farming for the last 15 years, said they were waiting for the success of its trials in Jammu and Kashmir. "We welcome commercial farming of Shiitake mushrooms. We will adopt it as soon as the government introduces it", he said. The cultivation trials were carried out successfully for spawn production and cultivation of Shiitake mushrooms in a spawn production laboratory in Jammu as well as in fields. It was done on sawdust of broad leaves in polypropylene bags as per the guidelines of the Directorate of Mushroom Research (ICAR), Solan. 

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"As the trials and standardisation of all the parameters were successful, the cultivation technique of Shiitake mushroom will be transferred to the farmer level in September. This initiative will provide farmers with an opportunity for round-the-year cultivation of mushrooms with enhanced returns," KK Sharma, Director of the Department of Agriculture, told PTI. All trials turned out to be a success with the growth of fruiting bodies first and full growing up of mushrooms, he added. Shiitake mushroom (Lentinus edodes), which is native to Japan, is a type of edible fungus and contains a chemical called lentinan, which some medical professionals use to boost the immune system. It will be considered a move to bring an economic boom in the farming sector with regard to mushroom cultivation in J&K. "The fresh mushroom sells for Rs 1,500 per kilo in the market. If we dry it, it is sold at Rs 15,000 per kilo in the market. With the introduction of the Shiitake mushroom, over 2,500 mushroom farmers will benefit directly from its cultivation," Sharma said.

Their farming will be diversified, apart from growing three mushroom varieties - Button, Dingri and Milky mushrooms. The fourth, Shiitake mushroom, will be introduced. It will diversify cropping as well as the farming system. It will benefit economically to all, even small mushroom growers, he noted. Terming it a big immunity booster, he also said that it has anti-carcinogenic properties, used in the treatment of cancer. Aiming to support small-scale farmers, the J&K government is going to implement a full-fledged project at a cost of Rs 42 crore in the next three years for the promotion of round-the-year mushroom cultivation for sustainable and profitable crops. "The project will be implemented at a cost of around Rs 42 crore over the next three years by the Agriculture Production Department in J&K, which will increase the production of mushrooms by 3.5 times and accordingly, the employment will be generated by 3 times," Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture Production Department (APD), Atal Dulloo said.

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