Mushroom movement led by tribal woman transforms lives in Odisha village

Bhawanipatna (Odisha), Aug 02:
Kutenpadar, a non-descript tribal village in Odisha’s Kalahandi district — infamous for starvation deaths in the 80s has now turned into a model hamlet, where mushroom farming paved the way for social development and individual progress.
It all began when Banadei Majhi, now 45 years of age, took up mushroom cultivation from paddy straw, having received training at a Nabard camp in 2007-08. Shortly after, villagers here, who would earlier depend on forest produce to eke out a living, followed in her footsteps, and their efforts and willpower, over the years, lifted the village from poverty. Majhi, often referred to as Mushroom Maa’ (mushroom mother) by locals, lives with her husband and four children. She hails from a poor family that owned only two acres of government land, which was fit to grow just millets.
Decades ago, quite like other villagers, her family also depended on forest produce and manual labour to arrange for two square meals a day.
After receiving basic training from Nabard for two years, Majhi started growing the fungus on her field, much to the surprise of her neighbours, and soon her efforts bore fruit.
Now a role model for the rest of the village, she earns more than Rs 1 lakh from mushroom farming.
“I earn a net profit of over one lakh rupees between June and October from mushroom cultivation. This apart, I make Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 from cultivation of vegetables, pulses and oilseeds, the tribal woman said, adding that she is getting a pucca house built for her children from the money she saved over the past few years.
The family that once struggled to make ends meet owns as many as 45 goats. Majhi’s husband Jagabandhu and daughter Jagynseni help her in her day-to-day activities.

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