Mushroom culture and bio-diversity in the Western Ghats – Tamil Nadu and Kerala

The Hindu, Nagercoil, 2 March 2009

People belonging to the kani tribe of the forests and hills of Kanyakumari district have wild mushrooms in their diet.

They collect half-a-dozen species of mushrooms from the deep forests of the Western Ghats which has a rich repository of bio-diversity. Since the district receives rainfall from both the southwest and northeast monsoons, it aids in the growth of minor flora like mushrooms. Owing to deforestation, global warming and attendant climate change, forest degradation, fragmentation and allied issues, minor organisms face an imminent threat for survival.

In this context, an environmental educationist S. S. Davidson, has piloted an innovative project to culture mushrooms successfully. The culture was done with paddy hay as the base for growth. The yield was achieved in 18 days.

The kani tribe, which was at the low pedestal of socio-economic ladder, was facing acute and massive destruction of their domesticated agriculture by wild boars, elephants, sambars, porcupines, mouse deer and monkeys. […]

Consequently the tribe would serve to maintain ecological balance and the ethics of environmental sustainability by reducing forest dependence for their survival, said Mr. Davidson.

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