English | Dzongkha Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Farmer’s first try at mass cultivation of Shiitake a failure in Zhemgang

Jul 25, 2021

If you dream big, you need to work not just harder but smarter as well. This is what a mushroom farmer in Zhemgang realized after his mass Shiitake mushroom farming failed to bear the expected harvest. He started the business by investing around one million ngultrum in the hope to earn a better income. But he started cultivation without knowing the farming practice. 

Minjurla, from Kikhar village in Nangkor Gewog, prepared about 5000 billets or logs to grow Shiitake mushroom. The 65-year-old ventured into mushroom farming starting last year. Had everything went as planned, Minjurla would be harvesting mushrooms around this time of the year. But today, all one can see is empty billets. Minjurla could harvest only 10 kilograms of the mushroom so far.

“I was expecting that I would be able to make a good income from at least 3000 to 4000 billets. I have informed my customers in Thimphu, Paro and other districts that I’m growing Shiitake in mass and even fixed the price. But embarrassingly there is no yield and all my effort went in vain.”

Besides the bad harvest, the price is also not good. A kilogram of Shiitake fetches only Nu 300 in Zhemgang, whereas it fetches between Nu 400 to Nu 500 in other districts.

“I started farming taking a loan of Nu 600,000. I could repay only Nu 65,000 so far. Thereafter, I didn’t have money to repay the loan. Luckily, loan repayment is deferred due to the pandemics. I am grateful to His Majesty for the Kidu.  Otherwise, I could be in jail for not being able to repay the loan,” said Minjurla.

According to the gewog agriculture officials, Minjurla probably did not know the whole process of cultivating Shiitake mushrooms. The officials said the billets were too matured adding the cultivation was also delayed by a month. Shiitake mushroom is normally cultivated between October and March. But Minjurla cultivated the mushroom variety in May.

The gewog agriculture office said they have been encouraging farmers to take up mushroom farming for self-sufficiency with seeds from the National Mushroom Centre in Thimphu.

Despite the failure this season, Minjurla is not discouraged. He plans to downscale the production and cultivate Shiitake on 168 billets next season.

Pema Samdrup, Zhemgang

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