Young Entrepreneur: Janaki Sreekumar: Pioneering Mushroom Farming In Kerala
A desire to inspire others drives this Trivandrum based entrepreneur to scale greater heights of business success | By Sona Harish & Anjana George
On Feb 23, 2012

It is true that a woman can prove herself and be successful in whatever she puts her mind to. Janaki Sreekumar entered into the mushroom business at a time when myths about the inedibility of mushrooms were prevalent among the fastidious Keralites. The CEO of Swadishta Mushrooms and pioneer of mushroom farming in Kerala smiles modestly saying, “Successful people are always ready to take risks and face challenges. With my husband, Sreekumar’s support today I am proud that I could bring mushroom dishes into daily menu of Malayalees.”




A post graduate in English literature, Janaki wanted to be independent and be her own master. It was in 2000 that she decided to take her husband’s help and know-how to experiment with mushroom gardening on a small scale.


“I did not have any knowledge of farming. But I was sure that my husband who comes from an agricultural background, would help me with mushroom farming techniques. The reason I chose to cultivate mushrooms is because it was not known to many and hence there was less competition. Moreover, I could manage on my own.”


Janaki’s husband Sreekumar is currently the Assistant Director of Agricultural Department, Rural Agricultural World Market, Nedumangad. Together the husband-wife duo started a small mushroom growing unit in their home at PTP Nagar, Trivandrum. Simultaneously, she researched the field by reading books on mushroom farming and enrolled herself in a training programme at the Agricultural College, Vellayani.


“The training at the University boosted my confidence and growing mushrooms became an easy task without compromising on quality. I collect spawns (mushroom seeds) from Kerala Agricultural University for my regular farming needs.  I supplied my first crop of oyster mushrooms to friends and relatives. Their appreciation encouraged me to step into the real business world.”


As a first step, Janaki distributed 200gm complementary packets of oyster mushrooms to the leading hotels and restaurants in the city.



“The idea took off in a big way. My first customer, Arya Nivas prepared over forty items using mushrooms including the popular mushroom masala dosa. Those who tasted these dishes became regulars there and this increased the demand for mushrooms.”


Without any advertisement and marketing strategies, Janaki’s clientele got bigger. She also started selling home-made mushroom cutlets, rolls and pickles.



“I attended more advanced training programmes across India and learnt more about mushroom cultivation and spawn production. As more orders started coming in, I hired an assistant to help me out with the oyster mushroom production.”



Janaki used to collect spawns (mushroom seeds) from Kerala Agricultural University for her regular farming needs. Later, when the University stopped supplying spawn in 2002, she decided to grow her own spawns and supply to other farmers too.


“By then, the number of employees had increased, so did the production and my whole house was occupied by mushroom beds and the spawn production lab. That's when we decided to shift the mushroom farming unit to another house nearby.”


Janaki named her dream business venture Swadishta Mushrooms (which means tasty mushrooms) and took a more professional approach by introducing recipes of chilli mushroom printed on the packets sold.


“A newspaper carried an article about me on Women’s Day and this gave me more popularity. Now we supply 2000-3000 spawns in a month in and around Kerala. I deliver mushrooms to Kalavara, Taj, Sindoor, Leela, Flavours and many other restaurants inTrivandrum.”


When disposal of the used mushroom beds became an issue, Janaki and her husband set up a vermi-composting unit, Kuleena Vermi Farms through which she sells organic compost to farmers and supplies earthworms for vermi composting.


Swadishta Mushrooms outlet now conducts free training programmes on spawn production and mushroom farming every last Saturday of the month. Janaki gladly shares her knowledge and experience with budding farmers without any fear of competition.


“I want every household to have a small mushroom garden to cultivate mushrooms for home cooking needs. I want Keralites to accept mushroom as a common ingredient in preparing dishes because of its nutritional value.”




Janaki’s business continues to grow by leaps and bounds with future plans for a full-fledged mushroom farm and laboratory and a walk-in restaurant with lip smacking mushroom dishes. Her business venture provides support and employment to several women who earn their livelihood working at this unit.


This distinguished businesswoman and trainer is truly an inspiration to all those who dream of becoming self-sufficient, adventurous and dedicated entrepreneurs. Anyone who gets acquainted with Janaki Sreekumar will agree that the key ingredient of her success is her simplicity, warmth and willingness to help others.  

Note: Dear readers, you can contact Janaki on her moblie:9447136382 Resi: 04712363824.

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smt.janki glade to meet you acutually i am thinking to start my business but i want to ask you that how to supply in market
Mohan Kumar Gouda, on Jun 16, 2012 08:55:31 PM
Hi I would like to start a Business with you. I am in Sri Lanka. Pls keep in touch with me how to do it.Let me know how can I contact you, so that I can have a visit to India ( Kerla )
Shanthi Lokubalasuriya, on Jul 15, 2012 05:37:05 AM
I am keen to replicate this in Cambodia could you send me your contacts Abhay Pattnaik Chairman and CEO Rainforest Capital LLP Corporate Address 684 HOUGANG AVENUE 8, #04-971, SINGAPORE (530684) Email: Chairman Rainforest Capital EXIM Ltd., and Rainforest EXIM PLC Corporate Headquarters Phum Serei Dai Dah, Sangkat Prey Veng, Khan Dangkor, Phnom Penh, Cambodia Tel: +855888198099 / +855 10 950 756/ +85516966633 Fax:+85516966633 Skype:abhay.pattnaik1
Abhay Pattnaik, on Jul 15, 2012 01:28:29 PM
Dear Smt. Janaki Sreekumar. I have read about your mushroom cultivation and training from internet. Could you please provide your email adress, so that I could be able to contact to start a small scale mushroom farm near Cochin. Expecting your sincere reply Regards Unnikrishnan
Unnikrishnan Nair, on Jul 30, 2012 01:19:25 PM
Hi, I would like to start cultivation. Please provide your e-mail address for further communication.
Radhakrishnan Nair, on Aug 11, 2012 02:24:04 PM
wer did I get mushroom seeds? plz inform
Rahul, on Aug 15, 2012 03:04:41 PM
OrganixGarden providing all kind of support to start mushroom farming. Please visit http://www.facebook.com/OrganixGarden for more details. Using OrganixGarden ready to grow mushroom bags very easy to grow mushroom and double your investment by 2 weeks time if you can maintain the temperature and humidy.
Organix Garden, on Aug 23, 2012 03:15:45 AM
Dear readers, You can contact Janaki on her moblie:9447136382 Resi: 04712363824 Sorry for the delayed response.
Team Yentha, on Aug 23, 2012 10:37:42 AM
I would like to contact you kindly send your mail id
V.Srilekha, on Sep 03, 2012 08:09:34 PM
Hi Janaki, Really appreciating you for your Strong desire for entering the market with heavy risks in this Challenging environment. I am Agi, Would like to study Cultivating mushrooms? I am from Thrissur, Currrently working in a Bpo in Ernamkulam. I am looking for a good response from you.
AGI, on Sep 21, 2012 08:38:53 PM
Hai Mam, I would like to start mushroom faming soon and the studies are going on. Please give me your advice on how to find the market.
Akhilesh.K.P., on Nov 19, 2012 01:03:15 PM
small idea can make big thing so every women can learn from her who have time and interest to do something.
Purushottam Pandey, on Dec 27, 2012 07:31:26 PM
Dear Madam, I am interesting to cultivate mushroom in my home.I was in Mumbai last 20 years. Now I am in Kerala. But now no any income.I am now 50. Now I can't work in out side.I was worked 20 years in outof kerala.We have no childrens. We want income for our expenses. Please help me to cultivate mushrooms in my house Malayalappuzha in Pathanamthitta Dist. Please give me your phone no as missed call.
Mrs.Rajeswary A.Pillai, on Dec 28, 2012 02:58:24 PM
Dear readers, You can contact Janaki on her moblie:9447136382 Resi: 04712363824
Team Yentha, on Dec 28, 2012 03:08:06 PM
i would like to your project keep in touch with us
Jesus Raja, on Feb 09, 2013 06:43:56 PM
We contacted Mrs.Janaki for mushrooms locally made. But we got the stuff from ooty . We came from kollam to collect mushrooms , it was better to purchase from super markets in kollam . Thus we got cheated. They didn't informed about the truth that they are only suppliers of mushrooms from other states.
Arun, on Oct 20, 2013 10:14:27 PM
Dear Madam, My name is Venugopalan, residing in mulund, mumbai. I would like to start mushroom cultivation in a small way. pl. help me by way of supplying seeds & and books to start cultivation of mushroom.
U. Venugopalan, on Jul 21, 2014 01:52:42 PM
sar iam new seed one milky mushroom amount per kg
Jnajaraja, on Oct 28, 2014 05:42:55 PM
Hi, Kindly provide your email address to have a more detailed info about your mushroom cultivation and related queries Thanx n regards
RAJEEVAN P, on Oct 29, 2014 08:13:47 PM
Dear readers, You can contact Janaki on her moblie:94471 36382 Res: 0471 2363824
Team Yentha, on Oct 30, 2014 09:19:21 AM
Dear madam, We shared your success story in our women entrepreneurship training program "PRAGASAKTHI" - @ Tuticorin. - Prithivirajan.G NALANDHA a group of soft skill trainers
Prithivirajan, on Apr 06, 2016 10:12:34 AM
HI mam, proud to read about youR SUCCESS keep up the good work special congrats to sreekumar for his strong support god bless you guys -jo (vancouver,CANADA)
Jo, on Jul 25, 2016 12:41:49 PM
Hi, I would like to start an oyster mushroom unit at Ezhupunna ,Alleppey dist. I would like to visit your farm to know more about mushroom cultivation.
George Tharakan, on Apr 19, 2017 10:19:39 AM
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