Lhakpa Quendren | Tsirang

Oyster mushroom farming, both for commercial and self-consumption, is becoming popular among the farmers in Tsirang.

Encouraged by thriving businesses and marketing opportunities, many mushroom farms are mushrooming in the dzongkhag, besides agriculture and livestock production.

And many of these farms are operated by not just local farmers, but young ones who are looking for a lucrative business in rural areas.

Thirty-two-year-old Bholanath Acharya from Tsholingkhar said that he prefers oyster mushroom cultivation as it is a profitable venture. “It does not require much labour, gives quick returns, and is also a high-value product.”

Many prefer to grow Oyster since it does not need much labour

He started the farm with support through Tsholingkhar Gewog’s Renewal Natural Resources Centre (RNRC) in December 2022.

“I initially received a subsidy of 200 mushroom spawns from the RNR centre. I had a successful harvest in the first and the second batches and earned about Nu 60,000 which was double the investment,” Bholanath said.

Bijay Monger from Upper Tsholingkhar, who started the cultivation with 100 spawns, has plans to expand his mushroom farm to increase production. “I will build a growing house of oyster mushrooms for commercial production.”

“Compared to agriculture and livestock businesses, the mushroom farming business has advantages,” he said, adding that the oyster mushroom seeds are also available.

Deo Kumar Parajuli, 40, from Tsholingkhar, said, “I have produced 42 kg of mushroom from 40 spawns and earned Nu 8,000. This takes my income a little higher to help my family members.”

While farmers who attended RNR’s refresher training on mushroom cultivation are a big draw, a lack of technical knowledge to grow throughout the year and space for production has caused damage.

To ensure a good harvest throughout the year, farmers say that technical skills training including the growing process and maintaining temperature for the different seasons would be value-adding for anyone wanting to start oyster mushroom cultivation.

Bholanath Acharya said since oyster mushrooms are very fragile, a small mistake might cause a huge loss.

“I started the farm without basic training which resulted in damaging 200 spawns for summer cultivation. We should have skills and required techniques,” he said.

Some farmers in Gomsum Chiwog who received refresher training also started growing oyster mushrooms for self-consumption. However, most of these farmers have not been able to harvest more than once.

Gomsum Tshogpa Kezang Lham said that it might be caused by a lack of humidity. “It causes mushrooms to dry out and stop growing in                 summer.”

Most of these farms are seasonal and grow mushrooms inside rooms made of plastics.