A teenage boy, still in high school, has a head start in real-life profitable business experience after he started his very own mushroom culture farm in Sadar upazila.
Within a year of setting up the farm at his home village of Durgapur, the seventeen year-old, Saiful Islam, started making a profit of nearly Tk 20 thousand from sales every month.
Now in 10th grade at Pirojpur Government Technical School and College, Saiful grew passion for mushroom cultivation from a very young age.
Saiful succeeded in winning support from his family with his persistent interest in mushroom farming and, in 2018, his father Noor Sayeed Mridha allowed him to get training on mushroom cultivation from Mushroom Development Training Centre in Savar near Dhaka. His elder brother Arifur Rahman's stay in Dhaka at the time was also crucial for Saiful's training.
For the initial capital of his business venture, he even managed a loan from Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC). "I used the loan money, which I got from BSCIC, to buy a machine for processing straw -- the material that is essential for producing mushroom," Saiful said.
On an average day, his farm now produces about ten kilograms of mushroom, which is sold for Tk 200 per kg at local markets. Aside from markets in Pirojpur, mushroom from Saiful's farm is available at markets in Barisal and Dhaka as well.
"Mushroom is of great demand to those who know its nutritional value," Saiful said adding that lately he has been making between Tk 15,000 and Tk 20,000 in monthly profits from mushroom sales.
He has been considering expanding the farm and in future he hopes to make a laboratory where improved varieties of mushroom will be developed.
Arifur Rahman, Saiful's brother, said he now lives at home and tries to help out his younger brother in every possible way.
Their father Noor Sayeed said he has always been a supporter of his younger son's pursuit of passion for mushroom farming. "I am proud of my son as he is studying while earning some money on the side."
Nazmul Islam, one of Saiful's friends from the neighbourhood, has been spending his free time with at the farm to learn techniques of mushroom farming from his friend. "I also want to start the business some day," said an enthusiastic Nazmul.
Suparna Ojha, sub-assistant agriculture officer in the upazila, said they also provided training on mushroom cultivation to Saiful, who is now the only successful mushroom producer in the upazila as well as in the district.