Mushroom Cultivation Business in Soppeng

Senin 30 September 2019
Mrs Wiwisriani is a housewife living in Barang Village, in the Soppeng District in South Sulawesi. Prior to joining the Cocoa Life program, her day-to-day was centred around raising her child and helping her husband with cocoa farming on the family’s farm. However since 2016, Mrs Wiwisriani has been involved in the Cocoa Life program through the Women Farmer Group (KWT) Melati. When the group was first developed, Save the Children conducted a number of trainings that helped to strengthen the group’s capabilities. One of the key activities was group mentoring for income-generating activities. The sessions also covered topics from administration, gender training and public speaking to children’s rights and preparing community plans. As part of ongoing business training, the group was educated on the cultivation of mushrooms – a topic that  was chosen due to the raw material (sawdust) being abundant in the village, as well as  the process not requiring much extra time, therefore not disturbing cacao farmers’ day-to-day role.

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As a result of the trainings, KWT Melati began actively conducting monthly group meetings. In April 2017, Mrs Wiwisriani received mushroom cultivation training in nearby Tetewatu Village and the group then formed a mushroom cultivation plan. Mrs Wiwisriani is an active member of the group and it enabled her to find her passion for mushrooms.
 
A month later, the group began preparing 1,000 baglog of oyster mushrooms, using initial capital from the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) group. In just five months, they were able to produce 275 kilograms of mushrooms - valued at IDR 5,500,000. Since then, the group has been continuously developing the business. “We learn from other groups who are already successful in the mushroom business. We learn from both the production and implementation process,” said Mrs Wiwisriani.   
 
The mushrooms became well-known within the Barang village, made possible in part by the group marketing their product well. They now supply for an increasing demand from the village government, schools, health clinics and hospitals. The group has also utilized technology, especially social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp to market their popular product. They currently receive regular orders from hospitals of 4 kilograms per week.
 
The promising income from the business complements that already made by the cocoa farmers in the village. To further leverage the business, the government put IDR 5,000,000 of capital into the group in March 2018. The business’s productivity has come leaps and bounds since during their third production cycle, the group created 1.500 baglog with the capital of IDR 2,400,000, which resulted in 182 kg of mushrooms, valued at IDR 3,700,000.

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One of the biggest achievements for the group is the recognition their business has brought, which has resulted in awareness and materials – such as the press machine gifted to them in 2018. Mrs Wiwisriani has been invited to attend district-level mushroom promotion events, with representatives from her group also participating in two comparative studies by the Agriculture Department in Malang and Bogor. The outcomes from the studies increased the group’s own mushroom cultivation skills and their understanding of specific production machinery. More importantly, it helped them build their network with the local government, resulting in more opportunities and training.

“I am grateful for the Cocoa Life program. In the past, I had difficulty speaking in public and I had low levels of self-confidence, maybe because I only graduated from Junior High School. After joining the training program, even though sometimes I still feel shy, I now have confidence in sharing my knowledge with others, especially when it’s about mushroom cultivation. I have also made many friends due to mushroom cultivation activities, have a network in various Departments (Soppeng), and I can see that our group in Barang Village was able to develop a business just like our successful friends in Java.” Said Wiwisriani from Barang Village.