BERHAMPUR: Srinivas Patnaik (40) of the city has proved that education can be a major catalyst for development of agriculture.
He has become a successful entrepreneur of mushroom farming returning to his agricultural roots. He is a sharp contrast to the new generation of youth who dream of flying off abroad in search of employment. This student of life sciences, with a degree in zoology, has never dreamt of becoming a farmer.
After his degree he wanted to be a journalist. He had also joined the mass communication and journalism department of Berhampur University. A piece that he had written for their house journal in 1992 changed his life. “I was assigned to write a feature on scientific mushroom farming taken up by the then head of the department of botany department. The research that I made to write the feature made me interested about the economic viability of mushroom farming,” he said.
In those days mushroom farming was a rarity in Orissa and most of it was being brought here from outside. Srinivas took up the challenge and decided to start scientific cultivation of mushrooms on a patch of land his family had at Mohuda village on the outskirts of the city. He undertook training at the tropical mushroom training centre of the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT). Even today he never forgets to attend workshops and seminars on mushroom cultivation held anywhere in India.
His efforts have brought great results. His farm now produces around one quintal of mushroom every day during winter season and in months of summer average daily production amounts to 50 kg. Srinivas is critical of educated youths not getting interested in agriculture. According to him agriculture in Orissa has suffered as most farmers do not have necessary education to take up scientific cultivation and the agricultural labour consists of mostly illiterates. He hopes more educated youths would take cue and return back to agriculture which is the basic foundation of development for any economy.