Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): A 33-year-old Sunita Kahar was harassed by her husband , a van driver. He did not earn enough to meet the needs of the couple and their three children. To supplement his income, he used to pressurise Sunita to demand money from her parents. When things became unbearable, she approached the Gauravi One Stop Centre.
The counsellors persuaded her to join a training in mushroom farming. Trainings were organized by Actionaid for women survivors. The project is supported by Mukul Madhav Foundation (Finolex) even last year more than 300 women were trained and placed by Actionaid under this project. The training of Sunita’s batch, which comprised 40 women, ended a few months back.
Sunita is now growing mushrooms in a 12 feet square tin shed at her home in Jheel Nagar, Narela Sankari. Over the past 12 days she has managed to grow six to seven kgs of oyster mushrooms. One kg of this variety of mushroom sells for around Rs 200-Rs 300. She wants to spend her earnings on paying the school fees of her children. “Now my hubby won’t pressurise me to bring money from my parents. I will contribute to the household expenses,” she says. Similarly, Sushma Bhandari (26) is also growing mushrooms in a 10 feet by 12 feet room in her house. Her husband, a driver, is a drunkard and a wife-beater. She has managed to sell around 10 kg of mushrooms so far. “I will use the income to pay the rent of their home and for bringing up my only child,” she said.
Priyanka Giri (27) from Karond was sick of the restrictions put on her by in-laws. “I was not allowed to even go out of the house,” she says. The training has liberated her. The mother of two, she now grows mushrooms and sells them. “When you earn money, your position in the family changes automatically,” says Priyanka, whose husband runs a small kirana shop. The training has also helped Sapna of Kajlikheda escape from a husband who used to torture her and suspect her fidelity.
“Yes, it is difficult to grow mushrooms but not as difficult as to endure an abusive husband,” says Sapna who uses a part of the produce for her own consumption. “You know, it has lots of protein and iron,” she says.
BOX Market linkages Mushroom farming can be done easily at home at a low cost. Women can earn profit by selling it at a good price. They were given training in growing oyster mushrooms, which are grown in straw bags by germinating wheat seeds. About 150 to 200 grams of mushrooms are harvested from each bag.
Besides teaching them how to grow mushrooms at home, we are helping the women market their products through our volunteers. We have introduced them to hotel and dhaba owners and to vendors of street food, who use mushrooms in their kitchens. -Shivani, coordinator, Gauravi (Sakhi) One Stop Centre, Bhopal