Farmers need to diversify agriculture: Governor

A Reporter
SHILLONG, May 31:  A one-day orientation workshop for farmers on the theme “Triggering Growth in Rural Meghalaya through Mushroom” was inaugurated by Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad on Thursday, at Raj Bhavan in Shillong.
The workshop was jointly organized by the Governor’s Secretariat, Shillong in collaboration with the Directorate of Horticulture and the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship (MIE).
A large number of farmers from all over the State took part in the workshop.
Speaking on the occasion, Ganga Prasad said the goal of the government is to double the income of farmers and this can be achieved only when farmers will diversify agriculture with other ancillary sources of income like dairy, piggery, poultry and mushroom cultivation.
Stating that Meghalaya is highly suitable for producing different types of mushrooms, Prasad informed the gathering regarding his discussion with the Japanese Ambassador, who visited the State last month, on sharing of technologies for growing Shiitake mushroom in Meghalaya, and urged the Agriculture Department to follow up the matter with the Japanese Embassy.
Stressing the importance of growing different varieties of mushrooms, the Governor also called upon ICAR scientists to help evolve commercially suitable varieties of mushroom for Meghalaya’s climatic condition and also to standardize technologies for producing mushroom thought the year, so that the farmers can generate income throughout the year especially during the off season.
Pointing out the need for farmers to focus on value addition, the Governor sought the help of ICAR and the Ministry of Food Processing to assist the State in good post –harvest management practices in mushroom.
In his keynote address, Agriculture Production Commissioner K N Kumar said India produces only 3% of the worlds mushroom while China produces 46%.
Therefore, owing to the fact that the climatic condition in Meghalaya is highly favourable for mushroom cultivation, there is need to raise consciousness and promote mushroom cultivation in the State, so that Meghalaya emerges as one of the leading mushroom producing States in the country.
Stating that the real value of mushroom lies in the processed form, he added that the volume of the crop needs to be increased and said the Directorate of Food Processing should look into mushroom processing and value addition. Furthermore, to boost mushroom cultivation, he suggested the need to identify mushroom growing areas and to declare 10 villages (5 in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and 5 in Garo hills) as ‘mushroom hubs’, which will be aided by the government.
He also suggested that farmers grow different kinds of mushrooms, such as Reishi and Shiitake, which are highly remunerative.
Kumar said: “The need is also to focus on the existing Mushroom Development Centre so that the centre can expand its physical capacity to produce mushroom spawns as required by the farmers, and also to establish a Mushroom Food Park in Shillong where farmers can develop and market value added products.”