A Fungi Farm Overcame the Storm

10 November 2021

Every year the approaching winter in Odisha brings out a smile on Gopal Behera's face, as it is a good time to cultivate mushrooms. Residing in Manpur village near GMR Kamalanga Energy Ltd., Gopal is popular in the locality for his good quality mushrooms.

Mushroom is increasingly becoming one of the favourite dietary requirements amongst many health conscious consumers. And for the farmers owing insufficient land, growing mushrooms takes only a small quantity of spawn or spores - a mycelium that inhabits a root to produce mushrooms.


About five years ago Gopal and his wife decided to start mushroom cultivation after receiving training and financial support from GMR's CSR wing - GMR Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF) under the Livelihoods Restoration Program. Gradually, they raised a mushroom farm with 100 beds and were making good profits. They were able to make a positive change in their livelihood.

But in 2020, the state was hit by a dreadful cyclone 'Yaas' and devastated their fungi farm. Later, the nationwide lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 also affected their business significantly. Since mushrooms are neither plants nor animals, they are kept out of the purview of the Seed Act and Rules and also the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act.

For the next few months, Gopal's family survived on the small savings they had made earlier. They were, however, looking for opportunities to revive their business involving mushroom cultivation.

During the same time, GMRVF started supporting entrepreneurs who had lost their livelihood due to the spread of COVID-19. Gopal approached GMRVF with a request to support him to restart his business. After evaluating his skills and his present situation, GMRVF extended financial support and also helped him in constructing the farm with cement poles, green nets and other facilities favourable for mushroom farming.


His zeal to fight the odds and continue for the betterment helped him raise a 300-bed mushroom farm. Once again, he is able to produce better quality mushrooms and also able to meet the market demand, earning him a respectable profit.

Mushroom farming has not only empowered him but has given a boost to his socio-economic condition and coping with the losses incurred due to the cyclone and COVID. He is now inspiring others by sharing his success in his village to grow mushrooms and also approaching other villagers to engage in growing his mushroom cultivation business.