The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Group Centre at Jhapha in Muzaffarpur has decided to promote mushroom cultivation among village youths to prevent them from joining the Maoists.
The mushroom cultivation programme would be initially launched at six Maoist-hit villages under Minapur and Tetaria police stations in Muzaffarpur and East Champaran districts in north Bihar.
CRPF sources said mushroom cultivation would provide rural youths to eke out a livelihood and discourage them from joining hands with the Naxalites.
The Maoists call the shots in the villages under Minapur and Tetaria police stations. Sources said the rebels have of late consolidated their position and as well as set up bases in these villages.
The CRPF would also train the youths on ways to produce mushroom and technologies related to the cultivation.
Besides providing them with an opportunity to generate income, the CRPF wants to bring the rural youths closer to them through the mushroom cultivation.
Rajendra Agriculture University (RAU), Pusa, Samastipur had explored the move to spread the technologies of mushroom production under National Agriculture Development Scheme (NADS) to the CRPF personnel.
CRPF group commandant Surendra Kumar evinced interest and requested the RAU officials to impart mushroom production training to the para-military personnel.
The commandant said an expert team of RAU engaged in the production of mushroom headed by senior scientist and in-charge of Mushroom Project of RAU, Dayaram, has started imparting necessary training and tips of mushroom production to the central forces. The personnel have been shortlisted for mushroom production.
Senior scientist of RAU Dayaram, who led a team of mushroom cultivation, told The Telegraph the central forces are being given a fortnight-long training programme, where tips would be also given on the cultivation of spawn.
After the training of the selected CRPF personnel is complete, they would in turn pass on the knowledge to the youths in the villages in the two districts. The same could start sometime in June, CRPF sources told The Telegraph.
“Then, the personnel deployed under the affected police stations areas would transfer and disseminate the technologies to the rural youths as well as the rural folks for their economic support to wean them away from the rebel’s organisational activities,” Dayaram said.
The CRPF has also decided to prepare a team of 20 youths in the initial stage in each village for its production. The mushroom and spawn produced in the villages would be sold at an open place in the town areas.
Surendra Kumar said a large chunk of mushroom produced by the local youths would be purchased by the CRPF itself and would be used in the canteen.
“The infrastructure and the technology required to produce spawn and mushroom would be provided to these youths free of cost,” the CRPF commandant added.