The Mushroom Development Foundation in collaboration with disabled studies department of Gauhati University will take out a handbook in Braille for the visually disabled on mushroom cultivation.
Kishore Mohan Bhattacharyya, head of the department of disability studies, Gauhati University, who had attended a workshop for the visually impaired recently at Khanapara, Guwahati, said the handbook would benefit the visually impaired to take up a community economic activity.
Pranjal Baruah, general secretary of the foundation, said the proposal would be given after a visually impaired person underwent a six-month training programme with the foundation, to ascertain where the challenges lay.
“The handbook would contain a detailed account of his day-to-day activities and the challenges he faces every step of the way,” Baruah said.
Montu Bhuyan, a visually impaired teacher of Nalbari, who recently underwent the training-cum-workshop on mushroom cultivation, has volunteered for the six-month training.
“During the recent training-cum-workshop, it was found that as far as identifying edible and non-edible varieties were concerned, the visually impaired had a keen sense of touch and did not go wrong when differentiating between the two. The challenge lay in identifying contaminated bags of mushroom,” he said.
Baruah said when contaminated and good bags of mushrooms were given together, the visually impaired could not make out the difference. It was in this area especially where they face difficulty.
Bhattacharjee also said it would be difficult for a visually impaired group to take up the activity by themselves.
“Though I don’t know much about mushroom cultivation, I know that the risks are high. Besides edible and non-edible identification there is bag contamination, which can be perceived only by someone, who can see. The activity can be taken up fully with the aid of individuals who are not visually impaired,” he said.
The training-cum-workshop for the visually impaired took into account every step of mushroom cultivation till the post- harvesting period, supply chain and marketing.
The uses of mushroom as food, food supplement and fortification, medicine, industrial recycler, bio-pesticide, bio-fertiliser, bio-fuel, bio-cosmetic, were also highlighted.
The cluster model of the mushroom development organisation and the strategy for community participation in economic development were the thematic areas, which were covered in detail.
“Developing clusters where disabled individuals under various categories could collaborate for economic benefit, especially in a state where jobs were few and far between for the handicapped was the main aim of the foundation,” Baruah said.
The Braille manual could benefit approximately 60,000 visually impaired individuals in the state once it was published, as it would open up an income generating activity for those unemployed among them.