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The FAO joined the Thai government in their commitment to improving the livelihoods of rural people with disabilities in a step towards poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The aim of the mushroom farming project was to establish economic self-reliance for rural people with disabilities as entrepreneurs.

The mushroom production training for people with disabilities was initiated 12 years ago in Thailand by the FAO. Mushrooms offer good market opportunities, as they are part of the daily Thai diet, and can be produced at low costs. Furthermore, mushroom production does not require intensive physical labour, and therefore can be cultivated by people with a physical and/or mental disability.

Every step involved in mushroom cultivation was reviewed during training, including entrepreneurship and environmental protection. Forty-seven trainees successfully completed the 60 days training, after which they transferred their newly acquired know-how to their family and community.

Agriculture activities can be a strong source of livelihood and income for people with disabilities living in rural areas. This case shows that a mainstream organization such as the FAO is willing to invest in small pilot projects that include people with disabilities in income-generating activities. As a result, people with disabilities who received training became more self-reliant and enhanced their social status, benefiting their family at the same time.

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