In just little over a year, he has firmly established a burgeoning business
This pandemic has hit every industry hard. The second largest earner of foreign currency in Bangladesh is the export of labor but with all the borders closed, many migrant workers have been out of a job.
Saiful Islam, 30, has spent many years working in Dubai, Singapore and lastly in Saudi Arabia. But when he came home at the tail end of 2019 for three months, the pandemic hit early in 2020 and Saudi Arabia soon went into a lockdown and his visa expired.
Unemployed, desperate for work, Saiful went door to door looking for a job when finally someone from the district's Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) told him growing mushrooms would be a profitable idea with little starting capital required.
In just little over a year, he has firmly established a burgeoning business.
“With just a little perseverance, you can be successful at anything,” he beamed.
“"The mushroom farm has shown me the way to light from the dark life of unemployment. I am earning about Tk1,000 a day by selling mushrooms to farms and local eateries. I cannot meet the demand for mushrooms in Basail alone. Hopefully, if we can cultivate with 2,000 packets of seeds, it will be possible to meet this demand. Due to the financial crisis I have not been able to grow a farm and set up a mushroom lab. With the help of the government, it is possible to get there," he added.
He began his journey by consulting the National Mushroom Institute in Savar with advice from the Tangail DAE office, taking a virtual 10-day training course. After that he bought seeds from Savar for 6 more days after gathering practical experience.
To develop his cultivation, he built a small makeshift farmland next to his house at a cost of Tk1.5 lakh.
He also bought 350 spoons (made of wood bran, rice husk, lime) and straw-beds for Tk12-15 apiece to hold the mushroom seeds.
After a month, each spoon collected 250 grams of mushrooms, while the straw-beds collected half a kilo of mushrooms. In this way 5/6 kg of mushrooms can be collected from 350 seeds at a time.
At present, Saiful's farm has about 800 packets of mushrooms.
Basail Upazila DAE Officer Nazneen Akhter said that mushrooms can be used to make various delicacies.
Saiful Islam has started mushroom farming after training in Savar with the advice from us and after two to two and a half months he is able to produce 5/6 kg mushrooms every day, she also said.
Saiful is a role model for the unemployed youth of Basail. He should serve as an inspiration to anyone coming forward to do this. We will offer them our full support,” she said.