1. Success Story

This Farmer Makes Mushroom Laddos, Pickles & Jams; Earns Rs. 1 Lakh Per Month

Shikha Parewa
Shikha Parewa
Ashok Kumar Vashist

You will be amazed to know that there is a farmer Ashok Kumar, who has switched from traditional farming and cultivated mushrooms and sell a variety of its products like sweets, pickles, jams, and much more. Let’s know how does he do it? 

Ashok Kumar Vashist is a farmer of Haryana residents who introduces himself as a progressive farmer. He produces and sells laddus, among other novel food items created from fungi. 

Ashok, who has just completed Class 10, has spent the last few years cultivating mushrooms. When the cultivation began to gain traction, he wanted to expand and start his own business by processing the mushrooms. 

"Until 2007, I was doing traditional farming on my five-acre family property." But I've always wanted to try new things, and that's when I discovered mushroom growing," he tells media. 

Ashok claims he has gone through a lot of research and study before taking the plunge. He paid a visit to the Murthal Mushroom Research Center and spent time with the researchers there. "I also received training from Dr. Ajay Singh Yadav, the center's head scientist," he says. 

"I began by planting oyster mushrooms, often known as dhingri mushrooms in India," he continues. Given that this was his first attempt, success did not come easily, he observes. 

"Because mushrooms can be grown with little initial expenditure, the failures didn't hurt too much," he explains. After several rounds of trial and error, Ashok began to comprehend the intricacies of mushroom cultivation. 

After completing the course, he made certain that he maintained contact with the center and sought their assistance on a regular basis. "I also contacted researchers at Krishi Vigyan Kendra and agricultural universities to keep up with various breakthroughs in the field of mushroom production," he adds. 

He was well supported by his wife Sunita, who also received training before she began assisting. "As each batch of mushrooms turned out better than the last," Ashok adds, "my confidence grew as well." 

The pair began researching new ways to market their produce, which led to a number of trials at home. "My wife would spend hours trying to figure of ways to add mushrooms into our everyday meal," Ashok says. "She began producing pickles, jams, and several types of mushroom curries," he explains. Ashok would make tiny batches of each new dish for family and friends to offer him honest feedback. Every piece of feedback they received was integrated into Sunita's following batch. 

Slowly, demand for these things grew, and people were willing to pay a premium for them. "People might have eaten mushroom in a curry or even as a pickle, but we began using it to produce other types of sweets, like laddus, barfis, and even jalebis," he continues. 

 As a result, the pair established Maharishi Vashist Mushrooms to sell their products and obtained an FSSAI accreditation. Ashok boasts that he has never met anyone else in Haryana who cooks mushroom laddus or murabbas (chutney). 

Today, the products are sent to states including Delhi, Rajasthan, and Punjab. Prior to COVID, Ashok and Sunita were earning close to Rs.1 lakh per month, but their earnings dropped during the lockdown, he claims. 

Sunita and Ashok have also garnered numerous prizes and state recognitions. They won first place at the 'Agri Leadership Summit' in Surajkund in 2017, and Sunita was honored in the Krishi Mela organized by the Haryana Golden Utsav the same year. 

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