Defence Research Laboratory (DRL), under Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), has identified mushroom farming technology as a potential source of income generation for unemployed people in the northeast.

DRDO experts said the northeast contributes only about three per cent of the mushroom production in the country. Mushroom farming is a low-cost technology requiring little inputs in terms of investment but generates maximum output in terms of profitability.

A task group comprising scientist Ashok Naglot, along with officials Vijay Pal, Nipu Jyoti Kalita and Balram Das of DRL Tezpur has conducted a three-day skill development programme on mushroom farming and spawn production technology this week with the aim to spread awareness about the technology and make people self-reliant to boost the economy of the region.

In the training session, participants from Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Assam were imparted training on oyster mushroom cultivation technology and tutored on ways to design low-cost mushroom huts and step up production.

“The introduction of spawn production technology in the course was a major breakthrough because mushroom farming technology can’t be popularised among the growers until and unless quality and continuous supply of mushroom spawn or seeds is maintained in the region. This is at present lacking in the northeastern region,” Naglot, the coordinator of the programme, told TOI.

Sophisticated labs are required in order to produce mushroom spawns from mushroom mycelium under controlled laboratory conditions. Mushroom growers in the northeast are highly dependent on mushroom seeds or spawns procured from outside northeast, especially West Bengal. However, this, at times, has resulted in a lack of continuity of the spawn supply and quality is also compromised, Naglot said.

“Apart from rice and tea, northeast can contribute big in the economy by doing mushroom farming and adopting the technology as a livelihood source,” he added.

Dr Sanjai K Dwivedi, director of DRL, Tezpur, recommended the participants to adopt mushroom farming in groups in order to produce substantial amounts of mushroom to attract consumers and for better marketing.

As spawn production technology requires technical skill and equipment, Dwivedi announced that potential participants can use DRL, Tezpur and DRL research and development centre, Salari (Arunachal Pradesh) as incubation centres for the purpose for at least one year.