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Ex-scientists promote edible mushrooms

Jorhat, March 29: Retirement has not stood in their way of tirelessly working on.

A few members of the CSIR Pensioners’ Welfare Association of North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST) are engaged in mass awareness and training in cultivation of edible mushroom species in the areas near the Numaligarh Refinery Limited in Golaghat district.

With the help of a grant given by Numaligarh Refinery Limited, the awareness and training aimed to reduce deaths caused by eating poisonous mushrooms in the rural areas of the district.

R.K. Adhikary, former senior scientist CSIR, NEIST, who has extensively worked in this field, said the socio-economic initiative in which members of the association have trained individuals on how to grow and differentiate between poisonous and edible varieties of mushrooms, has also resulted in the growth of human resources vis-à-vis the establishment of 40 self-help groups with nearly 400 members.

“We began the first phase of the project in December at Marangi development block, Doigrung, Golaghat with a grant being given by Pallav Das, senior manager, Numaligarh Refinery Limited. The second phase was initiated on February 27 this year by the block development official in the west Bokakhat development block of Golaghat district,” he said.

Adhikary said in this phase, it was expected that nearly 500 beneficiaries at the grassroots level of the Bokakhat development block would help expand the base of the programme so that the number of deaths caused on account of consumption of poisonous species found in the wilds would be reduced.

“In addition to this, the beneficiaries will also get to know about a protein-rich food item,” he said.

“Bags of mushrooms are collected from the forest by the ignorant villagers and consumed. But in the process poisonous mushrooms get mixed up with the edible varieties. Our prime objective is to show them how to differentiate between the two and then how to cultivate the edible varieties so that they get the maximum returns,” he said.

C.N. Saikia, president of the CSIR Pensioners Welfare Association, said by creating a modern spawn development unit at CSIR, NEIST, under the corporate social responsibility programme of Numaligarh Refinery Limited, beneficiaries could be given mushroom spawn regularly for cultivation from this unit thereby keeping up a continuity and buttressing their income.

The prevailing market price of fresh mushrooms is around Rs 100 to Rs 150 per kg.

U.C. Bora, emeritus president of the association, while commending the retired scientists for taking up this training programme, said he hoped that the formation of a supervising committee comprising retired senior scientists would help complete the project within the stipulated timeframe of three years.