The next time you visit a five-star hotel in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Bangalore and order a mushroom dish, chances are you may be savouring something grown in a prison in Bihar. Officials said on Monday that prison-grown mushrooms from the state would be soon sold to big hotels across the country.
Nearly 200 prisoners of the Khudiram Bose Memorial Central Jail in Muzaffarpur district, Bihar, have been engaged in mushroom cultivation for the past few months. Scientists of the Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa, in Samastipur district, have been roped in to train the prisoners in mushroom farming.
"Mushrooms cultivated by prisoners will be sent to hotels in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai soon," jail official Iftekhar Ahmad said, as the crop is now ready for harvest.
Ahmad said experts visited the prison to examine the quality of mushrooms cultivated there.
Jail officials said scientists were involved in imparting the necessary skills to inmates of the jail. The prisoners soon learned the skills necessary for the preservation of seeds and spawns, and started farming mushrooms inside thatched houses and huts, at low cost.
Jail officials, though, are keen to underline the reason why the exercise was undertaken, in the first place. "The main motive is to help the prisoners earn a little more by cultivating mushrooms, that takes precedence over marketing the produce to big hotels outside the state," as a jail official explained.