Mushroom production at high altitude areas in Phek: Study

Dimapur, January 8 (MExN): Phek district, with about 94% rural population, lies between 94035’18” to 94038’09” E, and 25037’37” to 25039’47” N in the south-east of Nagaland, at the altitude ranging from 520 to 2900m. Population of Phek was 148246 (2001 census) and it was sparsely populated with population density of 73 person/sq. km. The climate of Phek was temperate to sub-tropical with average rainfall of about 200 cm. The district was rich in natural flora and fauna.
Mushroom an eatable fungus grew wildly in temperate to sub tropical forests almost throughout the district on dead and decaying wooden materials. Traditionally they were well aware about its nutritional value and it is a popular food item of the tribal people. They collected it from the forests. Different varieties of wild mushrooms grew in forests during rainy season, but some of them were poisonous. Consumption of such poisonous varieties sometimes became hazardous due to toxicity. Even deaths were reported due to consumption of such varieties. The climate of the region suited well to Oyster mushrooms production as it grew well at moderate temperature ranging between 22 to 25°C with 55 to 70% humidity. It can be grown here successfully round the year except during extreme cold months at household level with minimum inputs. Marketing of the produce was also not a problem as mushrooms are the part of the food habit of the tribal people. Considering all afore mentioned facts, we have decided to promote Oyster mushroom cultivation in this region.
PRA in five villages namely; Porba, Sakraba, Gidemi, Pfutsero and Pfutseromi was conducted to assess the consumption behavior and scope of mushroom cultivation. Interested farmers and farm-women were selected from these villages and training was organized on Oyster mushroom cultivation. 70 beneficiaries were trained for a week during October 2007 –September 2008 in different batches on various aspects of mushroom production. The trained beneficiaries were given spawn free of cost for cultivation and production of their first batch. Performances were monitored regularly at all the villages. The data regarding consumption behaviour and overall production performance were recorded at all the villages. However the economics of production was recorded from a progressive farmer.
Out of the 70 trainees from five different villages, only 13 participants from four villages have started oyster mushroom production. The maximum adoption was found in Pfutsero village where six participants started the mushroom production followed by three, two, and two participants from Porba, Pfutseromi and Sakaraba villages, respectively.
However, none from Gidemi village started the production. This might be due to the fact that Pfutsero village had maximum potential for marketing of the produce, being well connected with the market place. In contrast, no participants from Gidemi village, a remotely located from the market place, had started the production. The mushroom produced by the villagers other than Pfutsero and Pfutseromi village was primarily consumed by boiling with other vegetables and meat (70%) or frying (10%). In some cases they dried the mushroom and preserved (20%). However producers of Pfutsero and Pfutseromi villages could sell the surplus produce (about 70% of the produce). The adoptability for mushroom production was comparatively low in Porba, Sakraba and Gidemi basically due to lack of market facilities.