Dear readers, today I'm taking you to Borokhori village in Magura to introduce a successful young entrepreneur. I have been working to popularize mushroom cultivation from the mid-80s. This young entrepreneur, a specially-abled man, is so special that he has made mushroom farming popular in his region. His name is Babul Akhter. His 14 years of mushroom cultivation has surpassed his so called disability. How did he make it happen against all odds? Today, we'll get to know all the remarkable works of this young man.
Babul has already made a big network of mushroom farmers where not only farmers from his native village but also from neighbouring villages joined.
In fact, I have visited this very place back in 2015 and from then on Babul has single-handedly changed a lot. It is incredible to witness the success story of a physically challenged person who overcame the all odds with extreme persistence and endeavour. And today, Babul's village is known as 'Mushroom village.'
As we all know, mushroom is a very nutritious food and many agricultural entrepreneurs of the country have stayed consistent in growing it for the past three decades or more. However, the reality is people haven't yet included it as a part of their diet. Considering the fact, Babul is trying to take mushroom to the next level. By growing mushrooms he is in the course of spreading the item all over the country.
Babul is creating seeds using cylinder system and also trying to teach other farmers how to grow the seeds.
'Usually, seeds are created in small sizes in our country,' Babul said, adding that in the cylinder system he gets more space for the seed. I was curious to know about the varieties he's producing.
'We produce the milky mushroom variety during the summer. We spawn the seeds during the winter and the production will begin soon,' he said.
I went with Babul to his laboratory where seeds are produced.
'I have 40 rooms for producing mushroom and can produce 10 tonnes of mushroom every month,' says Babul.
'Amazing to learn,' I said.
Back in the 90s, I met young mushroom farmer Jahangir from Keraniganj. Later, looking at his success, many young entrepreneurs came to mushroom farming. Afterwards came Mirza Lipi from Tangail and Abdul Aziz from Nilphamari, who created a huge buzz by producing a medicine, popularly known as 'Gano mushroom.' Baby Chakma from Rangamati also went far with her mushroom production. And, now Babul is showing the sign of an even greater success.
Babul is getting 10kgs of mushroom from one cylinder. Every morning is a blessing for him as mushrooms grow abundantly during night time. Babul is following the most advanced stages of mushroom farming. Babul has employed some contract mushroom growers from his village and the surrounding villages. He give them seeds and when they produced the mushrooms Babul buys those and markets those as well. The contract growers get Tk 120 (USD 1.41) for each kg. Generally each of the contract farmers earns around Tk 15,000 (USD 176.53) per month.
It seemed to me that every house here is mushroom house. Many of them say they're earning better than before. Earlier, children were seen sitting at home but now their parents can afford their education cost. This financial and social growth is the sole contribution of Babul, I would say.
By producing mushrooms people earn a good money. One of the farmers was saying that he invested only Tk 20,000 (USD 235.39) and earned Tk 60,000 (USD 706.17) within only six months.
Most of the farmers are earning around Tk 15,000 every month.
Housewives are also earning money through mushroom farming and through this they can now bear their children's education cost and as well as additional family expenses which is helping their husbands a lot. A woman farmer is buying two cows every year and later selling it for a good price. Most of the earthen houses of the villages have turned into concrete building.
This is what has been revolutionized through mushroom farming and much of the credit goes to Babul's innovative and effective idea of social development and individual progress.
Dear readers, Babul was born with Polio which had affected one of his legs and that's why he stretches a bit while walking. When I first visited the area in 2015, Babul was doing mushroom farming at a small scale, although he had started way back in 2006.
His indomitable determination has made him successful and now his inspiring words bringing success to many others. It's an image of revolution through mushroom. Hundreds of poor housewives have turned into successful mushroom entrepreneurs.
'I had to stop my study after passing the eighth-grade,' says Babul.
'At first I learned about mushroom cultivation through a radio programme. But a TV episode of 'Krishi Dibanishi,' aired on Bangladesh Television (BTV), clarified the commercial concept of mushroom farming,' he added.
'I thought for me mushroom would be a wonderful gateway. And it did happen, I tell you,' Babul said with tears rolling down from his eyes.
'I wanted to become self-independent and look where I am now,' he added with a broad smile on his face.
Babul received training on mushroom cultivation from Jashore Horticulture Centre. He also participated in a two-month long entrepreneurship course at National Mushroom Development Extension Centre in 2008. Later on, he engaged small scale farmers and started producing mushrooms. He worked on distribution, marketing and also went for specified customers like diabetes patients. Babul also set up a training centre at his village to awaken people on mushroom cultivation. He has agents in many districts across the country. Babul said Magura deputy commissioner has already declared the village as mushroom village.
Babul's wife Togor Banu is very proud of him and says her husband has made the impossible, possible through his hard work and labour.
I have seen the struggle of many entrepreneurs, but I liked that Babul has crossed every step of obstruction with skills at ease. Today he has unlimited dreams. We believe that he will achieve greater success in near future. His mission of creating awareness among people to consume mushrooms will spread stronger and faster. This is how many entrepreneurs will rise seeing Babul.