New Delhi, Jun 8 (FN Bureau) An NGO from Assam, Balipara Foundation plans to expand forest restoration and agroforestry across the North-East, aiming to cover at least 100,000 hectares by 2030, by scaling mushroom cultivation across communities it partners with. Balipara Foundation currently is implementing mushroom cultivation in Assam, aims to scale up approximately 10 mushroom units across the Balipara Reserve Forest area next year, strengthening the livelihoods of the Nepali, Garo, Boro and Assamese communities around the area. Interacting with UNI, Mr Ranjit Barthakur, Founder of Balipara Foundation said, ‘There is a huge potential for organic farming and mushroom cultivation in the Indian landscape. We are devoted to strengthening the livelihoods of the Nepali, Garo, Boro and Assamese communities for the greater good of their economic and environmental restoration.’
‘Simultaneously, we will continue working with the Mising community in Panbari and Jorhat in Assam, to scale up an additional 10 units for farming in these areas. From a long term perspective, over the next few years we plan to expand our forest restoration and agroforestry across the North East, aiming to cover at least 100,000 hectares by 2030, by scaling mushroom cultivation across communities we partner with,’ he said. The Balipara Foundation said the North East region has high potential for mushroom cultivation and a robust market and appetite for basics such as oyster mushrooms, plus the ease of cultivation of mushrooms enables women across households to improve their incomes without disrupting their lives. The NGO said mushrooms are a popular and lucrative business across the North East and they currently cultivate the oyster mushroom.
The Balipara Foundation is currently working with the Mishing community in Assam, though it aims to increase its reach to the Nepali, Garo, Boro and Assamese communities within this year. The NGO said currently 60 women are engaged in mushroom cultivation, with ten women working in 6 mushroom cultivation units. Balipara Foundation currently is implementing agroforestry in Meghalaya and Assam. ‘We follow a food forest model in which crops are grown across the seven layers of the canopy. The crops include Moringa, Papaya, Lemon, King Chilly, Sweet Potato, Turmeric, Pumpkin, Ginger and Black Pepper,’ the NGO said.
‘We are currently implementing agroforestry with the Mishing and Garo communities in Assam and Meghalaya, respectively. By the end of this year we aim to work with the Nepali, Garo, Boro and Assamese communities around the Balipara Reserve Forest area,’ the Balipara Foundation said. Based in Assam, the Balipara Foundation is building self-sufficient enterprises for the rural ecosystem based on the principle of natureonomics and circular economy.