In a village in Jogjakarta, a woman works steadily, filling plastic bags with sawdust. The filled bags are placed neatly in rows waiting to be secured and steamed. These are “logs” or substrates from which mushrooms would sprout.
Mushroom growing from sawdust logs
Ibu started out growing oyster mushrooms using these logs in her kitchen. She had approached Care Channels to be part of its livelihood program. Ibu started small with only 500 logs. She went for training and learnt how to steam the logs to get rid of organisms, how to add the mushroom spores, how to keep the logs in a dark corner of her kitchen so that the mushrooms could grow.
Ibu filling bags with sawdust
It was easy enough for Ibu because Care Channels believed in Asset-based Community Development. It wasn’t about new-fangled gadgets or machines but using the resources Ibu already had. So she used an old tin drum as her steamer and converted a corner of her spacious kitchen to a mushroom room.
The 500 logs Ibu started with, yielded about 150 kg of mushrooms earning her more than her husband could get from being a part-time driver. She continued reinvesting the profit she made to buy more logs from Care Channels. After six months, the quiet and steady Ibu knew what she wanted to do next.
She decided to go the whole hog. She took the profit she saved and decided to be a mushroom farmer. Ibu started making her own logs which are recyclable. She built a mushroom house so that she could put in more logs. She even decided sold logs to her neighbors who wanted to start mushroom farming. After one year, her husband decided to give up his job and joined her in mushroom farming.
Today, Ibu and her family enjoy an income that is at least six times more than what she started out with.
But the beautiful part is, Ibu did not stop. She meets up with farmers and local businessmen and forms networks of people that spawn a thriving business community. Those who did not want to farm mushrooms, made logs or created new snacks such as mushroom crackers.
In the village now, there are 15 farmers earning an income on mushroom farming and a lot more families earning from the various small businesses that sprouted out of mushrooms.
Story By Yudha Hasto and Wong Kah Wei