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Mapping farmers to labourers to help redirect crop residue for cultivating oyster mushrooms; ensuring employability and reducing pollution.



Our proposed solution involves bioconversion of paddy/wheat crop residues to the nutrient-rich oyster mushrooms through a simple and low-cost technology by training people of a target village (Mohna village, District Faridabad, Haryana). The wastes left after harvesting of mushrooms can be fed to cattle/made in to manure - leaving no waste at all! It has a potential to generate employment for the labourers and opens entrepreneurial avenues especially for sensitive sections of the society - women, landless farmers & other under-represented groups. A local self-sustaining business model ‘mapping farmers to labourers’ is being initiated in Mohna village. It involves training of people through workshops & follow-up sessions with all the necessary help (free seeds & raw materials), technical & market support. Post-training, participants shall be encouraged to implement it with all the necessary guidance (in-person and online) to establish a supply chain. The model shall be scaled up to the other villages. The heart of India - Delhi - chokes when the crop residues are burnt  - every year! Haryana & Punjab are among the top producers of wheat, paddy straw (approximately 20 million tonnes of each). 85% of the same is burnt in the fields (offence under the Air Act of 1981) during harvesting. Burning it for an hour adds 0.98 ppm of CO and 412 ppm of NO. Low temperature conditions & bursting of crackers (Diwali)  intensify the problem. An envelope of toxic smog covered the city (Oct 2016) when particulate levels reached 10 times the safety limits.Our model provides a green, cheap & flexible alternative for agro-wastes conversion to mushrooms promoting self-sustainability in terms of affordable protein-rich diet. The ZERO WASTE solution offers multi-dimensional benefits: employment & entrepreneurial opportunities; agro-waste mgt; air pollution reduction; food security; promoting health & well-being (immense therapeutic potential); and women empowerment.

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

Objectives :

  1. Possibility of a steady income by mapping farmers and labourers and completing the missing links in demand and supply of mushroom cultivation.
    1. Potential economic benefits arising due to entrepreneurial activities related to mushroom cultivation; and
    2. Enhanced employability across the state.
  2. Reduction in the crop residue burning in the fields which contributes to greenhouse gases emissions and the resulting negative impacts on the environment and health.
  3. Reduction in the number of people suffering from respiratory problems, asthma, throat and lung infections and other health problems associated with breathing polluted air.
  4. Conversion of wastes into a protein-rich and therapeutic food; thereby, achieving self-reliance in terms of nutritious diet.
  5. Zero waste model - effectively manage crop residue and reuse spent mushroom substrate (waste) after harvesting mushrooms as manure and cattle feed.
  6. Food security - self-sustainability in terms of nutritional and therapeutic food.
  7. Women empowerment 

Phase 1: Objective: Identification, survey and awareness (4 weeks)

  1. Target village identification: Mohna village (Ballabgarh, District Faridabad, Haryana) has been identified for initiation and implementation “From agro-wastes to a sustainable income’.
  2. Prelim meeting with Sarpanch: The team gets a consent from the village Sarpanch/Head (Mr. Ranjit) after making him understand the benefits of mushroom cultivation the local economy; and convinces him to address the attendees of the training workshop and to provide necessary local support for the same.
  3. Survey of:  - Consumer awareness survey and preferences regarding mushrooms and their therapeutic and nutritional values. - Cultural & economic conditions of the participants, identifying mushroom consuming geographic locations and markets with highest return on investment.
  4. Nutritional & therapeutic awareness & incorporation in to food habits: A compilation of nutritional and therapeutic benefits of oyster mushrooms and its recipes to create awareness among the participants and other villagers and to incorporate them in their dietary pattern. This shall also help in creating local market for oyster mushrooms.
  5. Setting up the training area/necessary base: This requires setting up of a training area and procurement of seed and other materials, etc.
  6. Develop website and mobile app interface: To bring the potential entities together; bringing produce from field to market.

Phase 2: Objective: Hands-on training, education and introducing farmer-laborer legal contracts (7 days)

  1. Introduction session consisting of (location: community center):
    • Hands-on training with volunteers and workshop participants of oyster mushroom cultivation is demonstrated by the trained farmer/trainer first, followed by each participant sowing the seeds in the available substrates to help him/her understand the process.

Status: Accomplished; first training session at village has been conducted involving 12 farmers & feedback on the training session.

    • Propose the farmer-laborer contract: Suggest an alternative to crop residue burning - educate the villagers about mushroom cultivation and explain in theory regarding the inputs and processes involved. Explain the business process mapping and partnership program that employs the laborers to clear fields and obtain the crop residue after the farmer mechanically harvests the field. The laborer is free to use 75% of the husk obtained and 25% of the husk can be used to grow the mushrooms in partnership with the farmer on his land. The farmer is further entitled to 25% of the profit obtained from the sale of mushrooms and laborer gets the rest 75% profit.
    • The technique is easy to understand and implement; even the illiterate people, especially women (with low illiteracy rate), unemployed and landless laborers join this revolution to sustain themselves.

Staus: Awaited.

  1. Sarpanch announces pre-registration of farmer-laborer contract: After viewing the demonstration, more participants shall be invited. Online and offline registration will commence for mushroom cultivation in the first implementation. The employment mapping will be there for all kind of agricultural jobs after scaling up.
  2. Use of App, iOS App, Websites and farmer helpline; and broadcasting SMS: Villagers can attend workshop free of cost after downloading the applications on their mobile phone. Farmer helpline shall be available 24/7 to deal with queries related to it.

Status: IT infrastructure under processing.

Phase 3: Objective: Boosting Local Economy using the Business Process

Model at 2 levels

  1. State government level: It is proposed that each village or a group of villages has a central location (barren/waste land) for allowing further training and producing these mushrooms so that farmers are encouraged to take it up as secondary/primary means of livelihood.

-Popularisation of mushroom as a vegetable, disbarring the popular cultural belief that it is a non-vegetarian or an impure dish.

  1. Producer level: The farmers with wheat/paddy crop residue need to manually cut off the stalk in their fields to obtain the husk that can be used for oyster mushroom cultivation. In the present context, due to expensive labor and high time expenditure clearing the fields is not favorable or affordable for the farmer. There is a very small time window gap between harvesting the paddy and sowing the wheat in October which needs to be harvested in March. This leads to a rise in burning of the agro-wastes to get rid of them faster. Several landless laborers and unemployed men and women can take advantage of this situation to sustain themselves.


Legal contract outlines:

a) The farmer and laborers can get into a contract where laborers clear the fields for the farmer and obtain the husk in return. There are two possibilities for the laborer:

i) He or she can walk away with 100% husk obtained; or

ii) Husk, which is traditionally used as cattle feed can be divided into two groups

-75% is sold as raw material in other industries, cattle feed and whole profits retained by the laborer

- 25% of husk is used as a substrate for Mushroom Cultivation in partnership with the farmer who gives some portion of the land (16X16 sq feet) to invest in the business. This is a common scenario that exists in the rural areas and is exclusively added for people who want to work but don’t have the resources.

b) The farmer shares 25% of the profits obtained in each cycle.

c) The trainer shares fixed income from the profits obtained in the first cycle only.

  1. Entrepreneurial cycle of commercializing the harvest** :
  • Mushroom Seeds are procured from designated labs in New Delhi for distributing to target groups via small trucks
  • Seeds are received by the farmers-laborers in the contract and other pre-registered participants so that they can sustain themselves on relatively smaller scale or to use the mushroom for household consumption
  • Harvest the fully grown mushrooms after 30-45 days and make them ready to be dispatched. It involves the packing and promotion of the eco-friendly brand.
  • In the first 2 financial cycles of the mushroom cultivation, the 4500kg produce per cycle would be distributed to rural markets only. Once the investment money is returned from the sales, it is suggested the harvested mushrooms in the third financial cycle can be divided into 2 groups:

a) Group 1: One-third (1500kg) of the mushroom produce is distributed to the local village markets for regional consumption.

b) Group 2: Two third(3000kg) of the mushroom produce is dispatched to the wholesale market of urban cities.

vi) Once a supply chain is established, mushrooms can be sold to regional/state/national hotels and food co-operations which use it as a raw material.

4. Weekly review of produce by trainers: To solve any specific queries.

5. Appointment of local village head: The head well versed in the local language, will forward any issues that require immediate attention.

6. Setting up of cultivation sites: To suit the growth of the mushroom crop. All the manual effort of making the cultivation site will be the job of the laborer in the contract.

7. Produce sold to urban markets and setting contracts with transport facilities that will export the goods to target markets for sale and consumption.

8. Financial Contracts: Produce Sold to Hotel Industry and Food Corporations

9. Expansion to generate Mushroom Cultivation in a self-sustaining mode: The trainer gets fixed income from the profit of the farmers he/she trains on mushroom cultivation. Trainer further selects 4-5 farmers who can help him spread awareness.

Location: Target Village  
Duration:30-40 days

*Mushroom Cultivation Technique by our team is at

**Business Process Mapping on Phase Wise Development and Implementation of Proposal by our team is at

Complete Pitch at



Who will take these actions?

1. Eco-Innovators: We will be implementing Phase 2 shortly post completion of Phase 1 by end of September. The workshops will take place around October, at the time of proper weather conditions as well as when farmers harvest paddy. We provide training, marketing, distribution and human resource management to map laborers to farmers and providing them with all the necessary raw material and resources to implement and reach out to bigger markets.
2. Farmers of Haryana and Punjab are working in more than 19,000 villages across the state.
They will use the online services to hire seasonal labor for agro waste management or other purposes. In our context, the labor will be trained to cultivate Oyster Mushroom from crop residue.Income generated by Mushroom Cultivation can act as an investment to major crop production cost and decrease the chances of a farmer getting a loan.Farmers current incomes are Rs. 14,000 (Haryana) and Rs. 18,000 (Punjab) will be additionally supported by Rs.6562.5, Rs.10,937.5, Rs.14,750.0 in Financial Cycle 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

3. Workers can be women, wives of farmers, landless laborers, migrant or local laborers, old ages people who will be trained on how to redirect waste to commercial value.They will get income from selling husk and mushrooms.The Range of  Income for agro-laborers in India Rs 6000-8760 p.m. He/She gets Rs. 4500 for selling husk along with Rs.6562, Rs.10,937.5, Rs.14,750.0 in Financial Cycle 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

4. The consumer will buy the primary and secondary farmer produce including both majority crop and mushrooms from online or offline markets. Sales are the only source of revenue generation which will ensure sustainability across all social groups and land holders in a village.

5. Govt Of Punjab and Haryana will help us the spread awareness and encourage more laborers to find jobs online to increase their social status and ensure no scarcity of laborers in agriculture exists.

6. Manav Rachna Business Incubator has undertaken our project under it and is going to support us to achieve all the discussed objectives in a more planned and resource efficient way.

7. Sarpanch- The village head is called Sarpanch who will ensure that eco-friendly measures of agro-waste disposal are implemented. He will also confirm all the local laborers in the village are registered on the online platform.

8. Retailers: Entities at the local rural/urban market who will sell farmer produce and mushrooms for high profits.

9. Wholesalers: Laborers will sell their husk to wholesalers who will collect products in abundance and sell it at higher rates to other business/industries which require them.

10. Hotel Industry and Food Corporations: Direct Contacts established with them will help them ensure that they get the cheap raw material.

11. Truck Companies: contacted for transportation of produce across the nation to all popular markets.

12. Delivery Boys will be hired to drop the orders confirmed by customers online.

Where will these actions be taken?

This plan will be implemented in 
1. Target Village : Mohna, Haryana ( For Validation )
12 Contracts between farmers and laborers hypothesized.
Mohna village (Ballabgarh, District Faridabad, Haryana) has been identified for initiation and implementation “From agro-wastes to a  sustainable income’. As per the Population Census 2011, Mohnavillage with a  population of 9843 has a lower literacy rate as compared to Haryana. In Mohna, Male literacy stands at 86.93 % while female literacy rate was 61.18 %. As per Indian Constitution & Panchyati Raaj Act, the village is administrated by an elected representative of village  - Sarpanch/Head of Village (

The following are possible places of expansion after validation:
2. Villages in Punjab - 12581
Total Holdings in Punjab by all Societies in all sizes from 0.5 hectares to greater than or equal to 20 hectares is 1052554
3. Villages in Haryana - 6841 
Total Holdings in Haryana by all Societies in all sizes from 0.5 hectares to greater than or equal to 20 hectares is 1617311.

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2


Country 3


Country 4


Country 5

Sri Lanka


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

The oyster mushroom cultivation from rice/wheat straw demonstrates bio-effeciency of 50 to 70% per kg of dry weight, which can reach up to  90% with various amendments like the addition of wheat bran/soybean etc.  powder to improve the nutrient content. 

What are other key benefits?

Tangible Benefits 

 1) Revenue from Local Markets

 2) Revenue from Urban Markets

 3) Return on Investment for Labourer

 4) Return on Investment for Farmer

 5) Low-Cost Technology

 6) Access to Raw Materials and Online Markets

 7) Mushrooms Produced for Domestic Consumption

Intangible Benefits

 1) Customer/Supplier Satisfaction

 2) Improved Collaboration, Communication between Farmer and Worker

 3)Employment for all: women, men, laborers, physically handicapped

 4) Food Security: Protein Rich, Vitamin D, amino acids

 5) Environmental Protection: Increase in air, soil and water quality

 6) Health Improved

 7) Agro-Waste Management

 8) Sustainable, Convenient and Comfortable way of supporting livelihood


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

A typical village like Mohna produces :
Paddy Grown Each Year: 100,000 kg
Waste Generated Husk: 60000 kg
Farmer Laborer Contracts Established: 12
Number of contracts = No of Cultivation Sites = 12
Husk Per Contract: 2000 kg

Husk Sold By Laborer: 1500 kg
Total Target Husk for Mushroom Cultivation: 6000 kg

Husk Target: 6000 kg
Duration: 30-45 days
Mushroom per financial cycle:4500 kg

Mushroom Per Contract: 500 kg

1 kg of husk: 0.75 kg of mushroom
Mushroom produced per site 75% of 500 =375 kg 

Every farmer-laborer in the contract has to go through the first and second financial cycles whereas the third financial cycle is optional as it involves reaching urban markets.

Calculations at

Graphs at

Expected Production Cost (Common across all cycles)
Production Cost Of Project: For each site per financial cycle the cost involved are :
Total cost of raw materials - Seeds, Wheat/Paddy Straw, Polythene Bags amounts to be Rs.54,000.00. Chemical products used such as Bavistin, Formaldehyde cost Rs. 30,000.00. Operational cost involving water and electricity sum to Rs.12,000.00. Packaging cost incurred is Rs.6,000.00. Unexpected or hidden costs sum up to Rs.6,000.00. Total Production Cost per financial cycle is Rs.108,000.00

Financial Plan 1st Cycle

a)Revenue: Rs.6,75,000.00.

b) Expenses: Development cost in cycle 1 is Rs.1,80,000.00. Raw materials amount to

Rs.1,20,000.00. Operational cost, packaging cost, training cost, promotion cost and other unexpected costs are ?12,000.00, Rs.6,000.00, Rs.30,000.00, Rs.6,000.00, Rs.6,000.00 respectively. Total expense is Rs.3,60,000.00.
c)Profits: Rs. 3,15,000.00

d) Profit per contract is Rs.26,250.00.

Financial Plan 2nd Cycle
a)Revenue: Rs.6,75,000.00.
b)Expenses: No development cost in cycle 2. Raw materials cost, operational cost, packaging cost, promotion cost and other unexpected costs are same.No training cost is included after the successful completion of the 1 st cycle. Total expense is Rs.1,50,000.00.  
c)Profits: Rs.5,25,000.00d) Profit per contract: Rs. 43,750.00.  

Financial Plan 3rd Cycle
a)Revenue: Revenue generated from rural and urban markets is Rs.2,25,000.00 and Rs.7,50,000.00 respectively. Total revenue is Rs.9,75,000.00.  

b)Expenses: No development cost in cycle 3. Raw materials amount to Rs.1,20,000.00. Operational cost, packaging cost, promotion cost are Rs.12,000.00, Rs. 30,000.00 and Rs.30,000.00 respectively. Transportation cost incurred is Rs.75,000.00. Total expense is Rs.2,67,000.00.

c)Profits: Rs.7,08,000.00
d)Profit per contract : Rs.59,000.00.  

Total Project Budget(all phases): Rs. 8, 36, 000.0

Cost Benefit Analysis for First Year: Benefits/ Expenditure
Benefits : Rs.8,40,000.00
Expenditure: Rs. 5,69,000.00

For projects to be economically viable the B/C ratio is supposed to be equal to or greater than 1.0 or equal to it. Since this ratio is 1.476 we can say this is economically feasible.

B/C Ratio for Second Year: 2.651


July 2017:
Initiation of Phase 1: Research, Survey, and Awareness

September 2017:
Initiation of Phase 2- making contract

October 2017: 
Initiation of Phase 3
-Training and Proposal of Farmer Laborer Contracts
- Local Entrepreneurial Model 

December 2017:
Start of Financial Cycle 1
- Distribution to Market

April 2018: 
Harvest Major Crop
Start of Mushroom Cultivation

June 2018:
Start of Financial Cycle 2
- Distribution to Markets
- Payback of Investment

October 2018:
Harvest Major Crop
Start of Mushroom Cultivation

December 2018:
Financial Cycle 3 Begins
- Distribution to local, urban and online markets
- Higher profits

Short Term:
The Mohna village engages online to register each farmer and laborer on our employment mapping platform.The village learns and develops skills to reap financial rewards to cultivate mushrooms using locally available wastes Workshops are organized to make attendees self-sustainable and knowledgeable. The poor laborers will get employment opportunities and better wages from its cultivation and continuous contracts from online web applications. The farmers also get additional income.It is our duty to educate the villagers about mushroom cultivation reasoning it with a consequent explanation in both theory and practical, regarding the inputs and processes involved.We will be helping them to sign contracts for mushroom crop insurance so that in case some portions of their principal crop are destroyed, profits from the sale of mushroom can help aid their income.
In the first run of the project, 12 contracts will be made between farmers and laborers.At Least 24 people will be employed and working. Out of 20 million tonnes of the total crop residue generated in Punjab and Haryana, we attempt to manage 24000 kg husk per village out of which kg 6000 will be used for Mushroom Cultivation and the rest will be sold to markets.Our projected output would be 4500 kg of mushroom per financial cycle.

Long Term:
This revolution can spread across all the villages to increase annual production consequently increase export to major consuming countries like USA, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Canada. Major mushroom export destinations for India are the US, Israel and Mexico( as of 2009). Currently, 95% of mushroom that is exported is button mushroom. Punjab and Haryana are already leading producers of mushroom in India, we just need to incentivize farmers to use their wastes to generate more income. A green initiative, this alternative to crop residue burning will reduce air pollution and increase air quality, decreasing all the diseases, health and breathing problems caused by it and the number of people affected by it. The psychological health of the farmer and his family would flourish and farmer suicides in the country (11.2%)would disappear. India only contributes to 1.5 % of world mushroom cultivation. Contribution of mushroom cultivation to the GDP will get an immense boost by distributing the produce to regional, national and international markets.

About the author(s)

Akanksha Ahuja- Computer Science undergraduate at Manav Rachna University in her final year. 
I'm a detail-oriented researcher and a diligent software developer who innovates technological solutions to existing traditional problems in our society. I've been working under the Research Cluster of Applied Sciences in Manav Rachna University for the past 2 years. I've worked at Gulftainer, UAE as an intern and learned deeper about the business perspective of executing ideas. I've contributed to solutions, ideas and represented my work at national and international conferences on Atmospheric Physics and Seismology.  Currently, I'm working on the development of a prototype of Pink Bins, an international winning innovation at G-STIC Brussels, Belgium.

Meena Kapahi - Associate Professor,  Department of Chemistry, Manav Rachna University, Faridabad, India.An Associate Professor, with a keen interest in promoting mushroom cultivation to support sustainable agrculture, has demonstrated history of working in the field of Environmental Sciences & Sustainable Development. An education professional, with a M.Sc. & M.Tech. in Environmental Sciences and pursuing Ph.D. in the field of Mycoremediation, has been a part of various projects related to the same.

Prof Beni Bahal - Professor in the Department Of Physics at Manav Rachna University.
M.Sc. & Ph.D. - Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.Visiting Scientist at GKSS Nuclear Research Centre, Hamburg Germany.Recipient of National Associateship of U.G.C., India .Research areas include: Nuclear Reactions and cross-section measurements, Fast Neutron Physics and its applications in Neutron Activation Analysis. Currently work on renewable energy and its applications.More than 40 publications in reviewed journals and conferences  

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The list of references is at