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Posted September 2000

Mushroom production training for disabled people: a progress report

Selected success cases


Summary

Introduction

Objectives of the project

The training center

Why mushrooms?

The project team

Training of trainers

Selecting trainees

The training

Buildings, tools and equipment

Outreach and impacts

Feasibility, sustainability, replicability

Selected success cases

Conclusions and recommendations

Annex 1: Layout of mushroom cultivation center

Annex 2: Buildings and equipment

Annex 3: Main steps in mushroom cultivation

Annex 4: Contributors to the project's success

1. Mr. Suphol Noivong

Mr. Suphol Noivong is a 34 year old man with a wife and a 5 year old son. A few years ago, he was offered a job in Taiwan through a labor recruitment agency. As a specialist in refrigeration, he could make good income for his family. He therefore borrowed money and left for Taiwan. A few months after he started working, there was a gas leak in the workshop and this gas had a detrimental effect on his legs; it was a nerve gas. Unable to continue to work, he was sent back to Thailand, not only without compensation but also with a debt of Baht 50 000 at an interest rate of 2 percent per month. Upon his return, he could not find any work because of his disability. He was weak, distraught, and confused as to what he could do in the future to sustain his family and pay back the debt. This is when trainers and consultants approached Khun Suphol, who saw mushroom cultivation as an unexpected opportunity. Although he was almost not selected because of his debt and weak constitution, all decided he seemed so determined that he should be given this chance. He was part of the first training group.

About one year later, he has already set-up a second mushroom house, he now has 3 000 mushroom bags, receives an average income of 500 Baht per day, is paying off his debt and regained strength, courage and dignity. The training program has changed his life.

2. Ms. Boonlak Duangnet

Ms. Boonlak Duangnet is a mentally disabled 27 year old woman. From a family of seven, five are mentally disabled. The family supported her in her will to learn. She and her mentally disabled sister were accepted in the first group of trainees, although it had been decided that no mentally disabled people should participate in the training, at least for initial groups. This was to ensure replication and sustainability of a mushroom farm following training. It was presumed that mentally disabled people could not become successful entrepreneurs. Khun Boonlak was among the first to have constructed her mushroom house, with the help of her family, using readily available material. She spent 550 Baht to build her mushroom house and received, like others, her 1 000 bags as an interest free loan to start-up her mushroom farm. Following training, her sister married one of the trainees. Khun Boonlak and her mentally disabled brother, both invest most of their day taking care of the mushroom house. It is very clean with just the right amount of light and humidity. She now receives an average income of 8 000 Baht for her 1 000 mushroom bags, generating a profit of 5 000 - 6 000 Baht for a period between three to four months.

Her family is proud of her success. She has gained assurance, feels happy because she has something useful to do everyday, and helps her family generate income. She and her brother are re-using old mushroom bags as fertilizer in the garden. Nothing is lost except her feeling of uselessness. She is now proud, more confident and feels she is an active participant in her family.




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