In a bid to promote mushroom cultivation across the state in a big way, the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asked the Planning department to include the scheme of mushroom cultivation in the next annual plan to provide budgetary support for its development.
A decision to this effect was taken keeping in view the high medicinal and nutritional value of mushroom besides being environment friendly. The mushroom cultivation would go a long way in giving impetus to the farm diversification while enhancing the profitability of the farmers enormously on the other.
Punjab will also start an advertising campaign to promote usage of Mushroom by highlighting the nutritional and medicinal value of mushrooms apart from a campaign to promote Mushroom cultivation by showcasing the success stories of the farmers.
Badal hoped that the success stories of renowned mushroom growers from the state would prove to be a milestone in motivating the young farmers to adopt mushroom cultivation as an allied agricultural activity to further improve their economic position besides making an enormous contribution towards state agriculture growth.
Additional Chief Secretary (Development) and Financial Commissioner Cooperation will take up the issue, of advancing loans to the mushroom growers at the prevailing rate of interest applicable on agricultural loans, with the NABARD and state level bankers’ committee. Badal directed the financial commissioner to ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) of mushroom at Rs. 70 per kg besides providing marketing support to the mushrooms growers through Markfed.
The Chief Minister also asked the Principal Secretary Housing and Urban Development to issue necessary instructions to dispense with the practice of issuing land use change certificate to the mushroom growers as mushroom cultivation was an agriculture activity and therefore it was redundant in this case.
Likewise, the Chief Minister also asked the Secretary Power and Chairman PSPCL to ensure 24-hour uninterrupted power supply at Agriculture Power (AP) Tariff on the pattern of AP High Density farming. He also ordered that any mushroom grower who was interested in having direct hotline, he could get it installed at his own expense. Activities like composting, spawning and production would also be included in the mushroom cultivation for availing this benefit, said Mr. Badal.
It was also decided to give subsidy on the compost to enhance the profitability of mushroom growers. As per the decision, under first phase 1000 mushroom cultivators would be covered and given 40% subsidy with a cap of minimum 200 bags and maximum 1200 bags (10 kg compost per bag). It was estimated that expenditure to the tune of Rs.4 crore would be meted out from the plan schemes of RKVY, Mandi Board and Rural Development Fund. The Chief Minister asked both the Additional Chief Secretary (Development) and Director Horticulture to work out modalities in this regard.
The Chief Minister also directed the Additional Chief Secretary (Development) to prepare a revised proposal to set up a Centre of Excellence in Mushroom cultivation at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana. The upcoming centre would be equipped with the state-of-the-art laboratory to undertake research in hi-tech compost, casing and spawning. Mr. Badal desired that the requisite equipment of latest technology should be installed at the Centre and these should be manufactured locally for supplying to the mushroom growers at affordable rates, at the later stage. He also asked the Vice Chancellor PAU to start short-term courses of three months on quality production of mushrooms to enhance the profitability of the mushroom cultivators in the state.
The Chief Minister also gave approval to send a joint delegation of mushroom growers, experts from PAU and officers of state horticulture department to China and Netherland to acquire latest technical know-how regarding quality production and to bring the best quality of spawn canning to the state.
The Chief Minister asked all the agencies involved to boost the development of mushroom in the state to implement these decisions at the earliest so that the tremendous potential of mushroom growers could be exploited to full extent in heralding another revolution in terms of mushroom cultivation.
The Chief Minister said that with the unbounded capacities and capabilities our mushroom growers can script another success story in the state agrarian economy.