Meet Pushpa Jha, the social entrepreneur who helped 2000 families to reap mushroom rewards

Pushpa Jha, 38, a homemaker, has scripted a success story of her own and has empowered others to follow suit. She has encouraged women of over 2,000 families to reap rich dividends through mushroom farming in and around Darbhanga.

The Asian society for Entrepreneurship Education Development has felicitated her with the Agri-Entrepreneur award in 2016. Last year, Pushpa received the Abhinav Kisan award from the vice-chancellor of Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University, Pusa.

Pushpa’s husband Ramesh Jha, a teacher at a convent school in Darbhanga, supports his wife unconditionally. An Intermediate passout, Pushpa started her journey as a mushroom farmer in 2010 on a meagre 600sqft area. She invested only Rs 500 and started by growing mushrooms in her own house using her unique farming methods. She said she used balls of wheat husks and rotten hay to grow mushrooms. Packed in polythene bags, the balls are arranged in rows under her thatched roof which nourish the oyster mushroom shoots in humid conditions.

“It is rare for mushroom farmers to produce mushroom spawns themselves as they usually outsource the spawns. Pushpa has inspired people towards self-reliance. She provides training in cultivating varieties of mushroom with limited resources and meagre investments,” said Kailash Mahto, assistant director, horticulture, Darbhanga .

“Presently, we focus on three types of mushrooms – oyster, button and milky white – where oyster is the most convenient one as its cultivation can be done during all the seasons while the other two are seasonal. Oyster has the least wastage and it can be taken to the market for sale in a short span of 22 to 25 days,” she said.

Pushpa’s efforts has brought a positive change in the life of a number of people, including 35-year-old Rinku Devi of Dhanauli village in Baheri block of Darbhanga. Rinku has not only learnt mushroom cultivation but she has trained 35 more women within a span of a year.

“Pushpa didi has made me capable of leading a good life through mushroom cultivation and has inspired me to train more and more women like me. My family was facing a financial crisis. Within a year, she has taught me to become independent,” said Rinku.

Pushpa said reaching her is as simple as giving a call on her mobile phone or meeting her at her home in Shahganj. She has a vision – in the next five years, she plans to empower at least 2,000 more women.

Source: Salil Shankar- The Telegraph