The growing of mushrooms is seen as a way to exemplify Permaculture’s principle of diversity, which holds that ‘the greater the number of diverse elements one has in a system, the greater its stability.’
Over the past 7 years METI has made tropical mushroom growing one of its fields of expertise. This expertise grew out of collaboration with the Crops Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), which allowed METI staff to undergo attachment training in mushroom growing techniques at Nuu. In 2012, by invitation from the Thai Department of Agriculture, the Executive Director and the Senior Training Officer were able to observe the Thai system of village mushroom growing, which is based on a central mushroom laboratory making ‘secondary spawn’ available to the mushroom growers.
This information led to a METI initiative to set up village mushroom growing in 3 villages under a CSSP-funded mushroom growing research project, which was completed at the end of last year. The tropical mushroom varieties that METI has experience with belong to the species Pleurotus. They are referred to as Oyster mushrooms. The varieties used are: P. sapidus, P. himalaya and P. butancream. One of the conclusions of the research project was that several tree species considered invasives in Samoa, such as the African Rubber tree (Funtumia elastica) (pulu vao), the African Tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) (fapasi) and the Albizia tree (Albizia chinensis) (tamaligi), as well as a species of flowering vine in the morning glory family, Merremia peltata, can be used as components of the substrate for growing tropical mushrooms.
Mushroom growing facilities have been built by METI at Levi (Saleimoa), Maninoa and Sapunaoa.There is now a need for further funding to take forward this initiative, which could develop into a new agro-industry in Samoa.