Size of group
Problems to be avoided
Selection of trainees needs to be conducted under strict criteria and motivation must be carefully assessed. Many people with disabilities are fully capable of accomplishing required tasks however, their motivation needs to be carefully assessed. Therefore, selection remains a key component to ensure sustainability and replicability of the mushroom farm on a private scale. This crucial process can be summarized as follows:
1. Review of candidates: Data on people with disabilities vary from country to country. In some cases, the names of people with disabilities are available from local or central government officials. Depending on the country, this could be municipal or provincial authorities, or can be Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare or Ministry of Health. Advertising on radio, television and in newspapers can also help establish a list of people interested in learning about mushroom cultivation and towards becoming entrepreneurs.
2. Pre-selection: Age and disability must be verified. Ideally, ages should range between 20 to 35, although some exceptions made in the past for younger and older candidates have proven justified and rewarding through their dedication and success. Multiple disabled people may have difficulties following a course because of limited mobility, understanding and replicating potential. Candidates with basic literacy will find the training course more enjoyable, theory classes more useful, easier to understand and are generally more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs.
3. Diversity of location: Following a preliminary selection, a diversity of locations should be favored. This will encourage future replication by trainees themselves who will have the opportunity to train their community members. It will also help avoid market saturation
4. Each candidate interviewed at home: Trainers must visit all short-listed candidates at their home. Trainers must verify that candidates have family support, community support and access to land for the set-up of a mushroom house following training. Trainees must be capable of taking care of themselves during training.
5. Verification of commitment: Trainers must further verify the commitment of both family and potential trainees as to their will and readiness to set-up a mushroom house following training.
6. Verification of motivation: Trainers need to ensure that candidates are highly motivated for learning about mushroom cultivation. This can be verified by the fact that potential trainees personally like to eat and enjoy to cook mushrooms that they know about mushrooms from their parents and grand parents and they wish to learn more.
7. Verification of availability: Trainers must make sure that the candidate is able, committed and ready to leave home and learn about mushroom cultivation for the duration of training. In case of multiple disabled persons, a family member should accompany them.
8. Final selection: Trainers must sit together and discuss their visits by reviewing each candidate and deciding whether or not a candidate should be selected, and give the reasons why. Final selection can be made after reviewing all potential trainees.
The number of trainees will depend on the number of trainers involved. A ratio of 5/1 or 6/1 has proven successful. With only five to six trainees per trainer, it is possible for a trainer to become closer to trainees and to better understand their physical, psychological and emotional needs during training. The trainer must always keep in mind that this training program is not only about training in mushroom cultivation but also in rehabilitation towards re-integration into society as active and self-reliant participants.
Mushroom cultivation can be done without major physical strength thus offering a good opportunity for women who wish to have supplemental income or who wish to develop a new business that will allow them to remain at home with the family. It further allows both women and men with physical and motor disabilities to work from their home rather than travel a distance every day. Care must be taken for women attending the training, that they have separate facilities and good security at night. During training, women can train along with men, and must be allowed the opportunity to express their ideas. Past experience showed that women learn well about mushroom cultivation and in proportion, show higher rate of success in their mushroom enterprise following training.
The following problems are often encountered during training programs and can be avoided or reduced by following recommended selection criteria. Although each problem can have several solutions, suggestions are made as to solve these encountered problems.
Note: Although strict criteria are followed, some trainees are likely to return home before the end of training. Selection criteria are there to increase chances of sustainability but cannot control unexpected events that may occur in the private lives of trainees. A preliminary selection questionnaire can be found in Annex 3.
1. Trainees quit or run-away because they feel home
Trainees should have left home in the past for rehabilitation,
training or work, and their experience should show that they have responded
2. Trainees never left their family.
Training closer to home rather than centralized in one
far-away location will encourage a greater number of trainees to participate and
to stay for the whole duration of training.
3. Trainees never received rehabilitation and therefore may
not be able to take care of themselves.
Trainees should have already received rehabilitation. People
with multiple disabilities usually need special attention and care; this must
always be considered in any training program in terms of facilities and budget.
If budget allows, a family member could accompany the multiple disabled person
4. Some trainees are not used to doing anything - they have
always been over-protected by their family. They may not wish to learn anything
or any trade.
Trainees should have the firm intention of setting-up an
enterprise in mushroom production following training and therefore must attend
the training program voluntarily, not because of family or outside pressure.
They must have access to land.
5. Many people over 60 years old never had the opportunity
to receive any training and rehabilitation, and now see the opportunity for
doing something. They may not be capable of learning easily and will find it
difficult to start a new business following training.
Age selection should be between 18 and 40 years old. Ideally,
they should range between 25 and 35 years of age in order to create a more
homogenous group. Special care must be taken that all women are not very young
compared to older men. The reverse situation would not necessarily have the same
6. Some candidates are multiple disabled (more than one
physical disability or both physically and mentally disabled); some may be
incapable of learning. Teaching a family member may help support multiple
People that are mentally disabled may need special supervision
although they can perform several simple and repetitive tasks. Other members of
the group must know about the mental capability of their peers and therefore can
assist by giving supplemental advice.
7. Security needs to be assured for women attending
For women with disabilities attending training, appropriate
facilities are necessary to sure security and privacy.
Final selection procedure
1. Preparation of application form as to show background, experience and capabilities of the disabled person as per Annex 3.
2. Announcement through media (television, radio, posters, etc) and by giving disabled people application forms.
3. Request for help to local officials in the selection of trainees, and encourage them to send interested people to apply for training.
4. Rehabilitation centers and Public Welfare offices should advise disabled people and encourage them to apply for training.
5. Applicants should have a letter of recommendation from one of the officials from the village or community as to confirm the trainees interest and commitment to train and work, following training, and to involve local officials in the project.
1. Committee pre-selects from applications.
2. Committee interviews pre-selected people at their home in order to verify the candidates genuine interest and family/community support.
3. Committee sends a letter to confirm and invite selected disabled people on the dates, venue and schedule of training.
4. In order to facilitate selection, and for convenience in the follow-up and support, it may be helpful if few disabled people come from the same district. People can then help each other so that after training, upon return to their home, they may eventually work together.