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Stories From Nepal

Mushroom cultivation supports nutrition and increases income in Nepal

Mushroom Project in Nepal

Each village in Nepal has at least a few malnourished children. There is a strong need for off-season crops that increase the nutritional value of the family’s diet as well as their income.

Many NGOs and INGOs have addressed this issue by funding large-scale, higher risk projects such as greenhouses to grow tomatoes. However, tomatoes are fragile and hard to carry over the long distances required to reach markets.

Mushrooms, on the other hand, are both lightweight and yield a high price per kilogram. Overall, mushroom cultivation is low cost and high value in Nepal.

To take advantage of this opportunity, Volunteer Sarah proposed mushroom cultivation to the mother’s groups in her village development committee (VDC) because it could increase the protein and mineral content of the family’s diet as well as their income. The VDC is located in the far west of Nepal and includes 37 mothers' groups and about 13,500 people. 

Mushroom in Nepal
A local community beneficiary of the mushroom project.

In September 2015 Sarah organized 16 mothers' groups who expressed interest in mushroom cultivation. Each group donated straw, firewood, dark room, and various supplies for the project. In October, a staff member of the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) came to train the mother’s groups on mushroom cultivation. In November, another staff member from the DADO office conducted a practical training for the mothers' groups. During the training, the groups created bags of mushrooms that were kept at a central Health Post as a model colony. At the end of the day, all 16 groups went home with 20 bags of mushroom seed and supplies to develop their own colonies.

After one month, the mushrooms started growing and each group reported that their colony had produced mushrooms. The highest producing group was the Health Post model colony, which produced 35 kilograms of mushrooms over 2 months. Each mothers' group sold the mushrooms to neighbors and used them to feed their own families. Consuming the mushrooms increased the amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals in their diet, and selling them raised money for the household, allowing groups to purchase more seeds. Ten of the original 16 groups funded half the cost of seed for the second round of cultivation and reported that the bags are growing well.

In the words of a community member, their village “is well known for its quality honey and refined butter. Now we can be known for our mushroom production as well!”

The District Agriculture Office staff agreed to continue working with the VDC Health Post in the coming year to bring quality mushroom seed to people. Knowledge of mushroom cultivation has spread throughout the VDC and now is used as both an income- generation project, as well as a food grown at home to increase the amount of nutrition in a family’s diet.