The Chukha dzongkhag initiative to try white button mushroom farming has been a success, according to agriculture officials.

Four areas were identified in Darla (Tala), Chasilakha, and Tsimalakha in April this year for the trial programme.

Four staff from the dzongkhag agriculture sector were also sent to Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, India, with funding support under India government’s ‘project tied assistance’ for training on white button mushroom farming.

Deputy chief dzongkhag agriculture officer, Saha Bir Rai, said the programme was initiated on the instruction by Chukha dzongdag and supported by National Mushroom Center (NMC).

He said the compost was prepared at Darla and different farm sites with different elevations within the dzongkhag were selected to understand the best site for future farms.

“The preliminary data show that all the locations are viable for white mushroom cultivation,” Saha Bir Rai said. “The first harvest was done in 75 days from the day the composting was initiated.”

He also said that the white button mushroom was tried for the first time in the dzongkhag. “One of the major challenges faced during the trial programme was the need of constant monitoring of the farm.”

Meanwhile, the outcome of the programme has also been communicated to the Department of Agriculture.

“The department instructed to work towards up-scaling the farming,” the agriculture officer said. “We are hoping that more farmers and youth come forward to take up the farming.”

A farming group in Tshimasham, the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YiAP), run by three graduates were also involved in this trial.

This group would take up the farming, Saha Bir Rai said, and the dzongkhag administration would give technical support.

Chukha dzongdag, Minjur Dorj, said the need of diversifying and capitalising agriculture activities to the advantage of farmers and youth is of utmost importance. “Any such new initiatives are welcome.”

He said the dzongkhag is open to new ideas.

The programme director of NMC, Dawa Penjor, said that with the success of the trial, priority would be given to upscale the farming in Chukha and other parts of the country.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing