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Mushrooms to fight HIV

It’s not a new medicine to cure HIV but mushrooms can help to fight HIV harm, to develop infected people’s integration in society and to increase their financial capacities.

HIV volunteer Since 2013, Plan International has been working in Chai Prakarn district (Chiang Mai Province) to support people living with AIDS and their families. Plan International organised the HIV center in the hospital to transform it into a place where people with and without HIV can come to have some activities, and in 2014 we created the first mushroom hut. After the success of this first mushroom hut, the hospital staff and especially the Director fully supported the activity by building the second hut.

Today, infected and non-infected people are holding 19 mushroom shares. The mushrooms are sold to the staff in the hospital and to the general public, and they are even now cooked in the hospital’s kitchen for the patients. 

Empowering HIV infected people

Nurse buying mushroom

The mushroom crop helps them to develop their self- esteem and their acceptance in the community.

K. Sangwarn, from the Group committee: “Previously, people rarely came to the center. But now, as the center has a good atmosphere, people visit more often. Some may come to drink coffee, some may come to buy mushrooms, and all would have a chance to learn more about the infection.”

The mushroom business turns out even to be an employer of non-infected people who come to work as day-labour in the mushroom farm of the HIV-infected family.  While some people in Thailand still refuse to eat or buy any food products from people living with HIV,  the decrease of discrimination within the community is really one of the success of this project.  

Creating incomes

Mushroom production is a part of the revolving fund’s activity of the project.  It creates income of around 50.000 baths per year (1.350 euros) for the group.

Using the profits they have accumulated since July 2016 they have been able to increase their investment by 160%, from 12,000 baht to 32,000 baht. This means that they can develop their business and organise more activities in the center.

It also becomes a learning center on mushroom growing. Group members have started growing mushrooms at their homes. One HIV-infected family has now been able to increase their income an average of 4.000-5.000 baths (110/135 euros) per month.

The Group plans to develop the center as a wholesale for mushrooms so that they will sell the mushroom seeds at a lower rate for their members.  They will set up saving groups, to develop the sustainability of the project

K.Oi, from the Group committee: “Since Plan International came, the Group has changed. There are revolving funding, activities, people have more income, and the group is getting stronger.”