Mushrooming Innovation

Mushrooming Innovation

Times of India, Nagpur: Innovation, experimentation and hard work go hand in hand at the Thangavel farm on Hingna Road. In the past four years or so, the family has taken up innovative farming of dates, strawberries and quails, along with conventional agriculture. Next on their menu are oyster mushrooms. 


Oyster milky mushroom, that the Thangavels are growing, is one of the easiest to grow. It requires minimal investment and the profit is at least three fold. Oyster mushrooms have a very high nutritive value, especially the protein content. The only extra effort a farmer has to make in growing mushrooms is getting the seed or the spawn from Pune. But this, too, has become very simple. You have to just order with the firm and have the spawn delivered in Nagpur. 



"I see mushrooms as a viable and profitable venture for farmers who have no extra source of income in case of failure of their conventional crop. I wish every small farmer takes it up. Why should a farmer ever think of suicide? There are so many such options of alternative crops," says 61-year-old Savi Thangavel, the family head. 


Savi's wife Kanaklata, a retired nursing teacher, has taken upon herself the task of ensuring good health for the crop as well. "While my husband keeps busy with demonstrating the cultivation technology to farmers who visit us round the clock, my daughter Shona and I see that the temperature (25-30degrees) and a humidity of 65-70% is maintained. All we need to do is just keep moist gunny bags to create a room-like structure. Oyster mushrooms do not need intensive efforts at all," says Kanaklata. 


Shona, who also assists her father in answering the visitors' queries, says that she can give a ready-to-harvest pack for anyone interested in growing mushrooms at home. All you has to do is hang it from the roof in your kitchen. "Ours is 100% organic cultivation. We use just wheat straw as food substrate to grow mushrooms. The straw is soaked in water and boiled to decontaminate it. The straw is packed into a plastic bag and the spawn is introduced in each bag. The creamy, oyster shaped mushrooms begin to pop out from all over the bag in about 24 days of the hanging basket. One such basket can give three crops of the mushrooms," explains Shona. 



Thangavel's son Swaran and daughter-in-law Vandana too have a role to play in the mushroom cultivation. They have to harvest the crop, weigh it and pack it. "We have never been engaged in any formal marketing plan. Luckily, our farm is well placed. All Nagpurians visiting Bor sanctuary or on a drive around the city just drop in for curiosity sake first time and end up buying a lot of our produce," says a proud Swaran. 



Those who are not aware of the nutritive value of mushrooms or have not developed a taste for them as yet can approach Vandana who not just sells the mushrooms to you but also shares the recipes. With the crop that goes unsold, the Thangavels dry the mushrooms, powder them and preserve them for use in soups or other dishes. The family just puts in Rs10 /kg of investment as seed in addition to the straw and sells the mushrooms at about Rs250/kg. 



Anurag Goyal, a young entrepreneur from the city, also grows mushrooms, but, as compared to the Thangavels, the cultivation method for button mushrooms is very high-tech. It not only requires a lot of care but also huge investment and space. Since these mushrooms are susceptible to various diseases, they need to be grown in a very hygienic environment. 



"I don't engage in retail marketing. Even otherwise, only 6% of our produce is sold in the city. I have appointed dealers in the city as well as across the country. Metros like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata are my biggest markets. Bhopal and Indore too give good business," says Goyal. However, he refrains from sharing details about the cultivation technology, profit margins, investments etc not just from customers but also media. He was reluctant to give photographs of the mushroom. He believes that it draws unnecessary enquiries and creates uncalled for problems.



Anurag's father Sanjan started the business in 2008. Being a biotechnology graduate, Anurag took over the project within a year. The Goyals now produce about 3 tonne/day of button mushrooms in their Gumthala unit in Kamptee tehsil. "Since button mushroom cultivation is technology intensive, I took specialized training in Himachal Pradesh where it is grown at large scale," said Anurag. 



Rishi Goyal, second son of Sanjan Goyal, says that button mushrooms have a variety of nutrients. Besides they are also known to slow down the process of cancer cell formation. "Above all it is great weight loss food with 80-90% water content and high fibre, an excellent source of potassium and heart healthy copper," he said. 



INFOBOX 



Head: A healthy yield 



OYSTER MUSHROOMS 



Cultivation method 



* Wheat straw or any other straw is crushed, boiled at about 80 degrees for two hours, allowed to cool down and then spawn is added to it 



* One kg compost is filled into polythene bags and plugged with non-absorbent cotton 



* Bags are hung from bamboo or other sticks and spawn is introduced in it 



* Temperature of 20-33 degrees C is maintained by wetting the gunny bag walls. Humidity is maintained by wetting the floor. (Thangavels are growing mushrooms over vermin-compost pits which helps in maintaining humidity) 



* In 20-25 days, the crop emerges. Three crops can be harvested from each bang in a week's gap 



Nutritive value 



* Calories 28 cal/cup, 0.35 gm of fat, 2.85 gm protein and 3 gm of fibre 



* Vitamin D-166.67%, Vitamin B2-23.0%, Vit B3- 26.64%, copper 23.33%, Vitamin B5-22.26% 



* Helps in maintaining blood sugar, immunity, cardiovascular conditions, skin and brain health 



* Other nutrients include 361 mg potassium, 0.095 gm Vit B6 and 33 microgram folate in one cup of raw oyster 



* Has antioxidant and anti bacterial properties 



BUTTON MUSHROOM CULTIVATION 



* Spawn production | Stock culture may be produced in lab or procured from reputed growers 



* Compost preparation | In long-term method, paddy straws are placed in layers and water is poured on it along with fertilizers, wheat bran, molasses, and then stackedThe stacks are turned and watered. On 12th day it gives ammonia like smell. In short-term process, pasteurization is done to kill undesired microbes and competitors. Process is done in a steaming room at 600 degrees C for 4 hours. The substrate is later cooled down to 250 degrees 



· Spawning | Mixing of spawn (seed) is done. It involves techniques like spot spawning, and surface and layer spawning 



· Then the compost is filled in polythene bags. A soil casing is done over it 



· Fruiting occurs at 23-20 degrees, with 92-3 light sprays of water per day, keeping humidity at 85%, proper ventilation and CO2 concentration 



· Harvesting done at bottom stage with 2.5 to 4cm 



Nutrition components 



It is rich in niacin, riboflavin, folate, phosphorous, iron, panthoneic acid, zinc, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin B6, selenium and thiamin.

Courtesy :  Times of India


Mr. Ritesh Deshmukh Sir the very famous Bollywood Hindi movie star along with Dr. Umesh Mundlye visited Thangavel Date Plantation

Mr. Ritesh Deshmukh Sir the very famous Bollywood Hindi movie star along with Dr. Umesh Mundlye visited Thangavel Date Plantation on 15.7.16. 

Mr. Kutchi Thangavel took them around the farm and showed the various cash flow options for farmers. Mr. Ritesh Deshmukh Sir is exploring various possibilities to develop his own farm with Date crop being one of the option. Mr. Ritesh Deshmukh Sir and Dr. Umesh Mundlye visited the strawberry patch and had lemon tea with us.







A ray of hope on subsidy for Date plants came in the form of two joint directors Mr. Gholap and Mr. Bansode from Pune agriculture office when they visited Thangavel Date Plantation on 8th July 2016.

A ray of hope on subsidy for Date plants came in the form of two joint directors Mr. Gholap and Mr.  Bansode from Pune agriculture office when they visited Thangavel Date Plantation on 8th July 2016.  A ray of hope for subsidy as the officers are considering to give subsidy to the Vidarbha farmers for Date farming.  If this happens then it will be a big step forward in our effort to help the Vidarbha farmers.  A big thanks to the Hingna agriculture officers who took the initiative in bringing these officers to visit the Thangavel Date Plantation.



The High commissioner of Mauritius Jagdishwar Goburdhun Sir along with a 15 member delegation from Mauritius visited the Thangavel Date Plantation on 6thJuly 2016.

The High commissioner of Mauritius Jagdishwar Goburdhun Sir along with a 15 member delegation from Mauritius visited the Thangavel Date Plantation on 6thJuly 2016.  We are honoured and humbled as this was the second visit of High Commissioner of Mauritius to our Farm.








Padmashree Subhash Palekar Guruji along with High Commissioner of Mauritius Jagdishwar Goburdhun Sir and Hemant Singh Chauhanji visited Thangavel Date Plantation.

On 3rd July 2016 Padmashree Subhash Palekar Guruji along with High Commissioner of Mauritius Jagdishwar Goburdhun Sir and Hemant Singh Chauhanji visited Thangavel Date Plantation.  It was a joy to take them around and show them our farm.  Some photos of this memorable occasion.








Agriculture officers from 13 taluka of Nagpur district visited our Thangavel Date Plantation

Agriculture officers from 13 taluka of Nagpur district visited our Thangavel Date Plantation. They were taken around the farm and shown the varieties of date fruits. Mr. Thangavel told the officers about how Date Plantation can be the future crop of Vidarbha.



Winter is here and so is the Strawberry!

Yes our first strawberry fruits started showing up. This time we are experimenting with two varieties namely Winter Dawn and Elyana. Winter Dawn is a sun friendly variety and Elyana is a shed net (shade) variety. We are growing it fully Organic. 

On many friends request we planted strawberry in small packets, you can take the plants easily and enjoy the fruit in your home throughout the season. Only limited plants are available. 

After our last year experiment some of our friends have ventured in to the Strawberry cultivation. We apriciate their interest and courage. We are sure that they will get a good crop and in the coming years more people would go for it.
We at Thangavel Date Plantation believe that Nagpur CAN DO WONDERS!!