Inspired by the communal vision for economic empowerment, 64 women from the villages of Naivucini, Saumakia, and Drauleba in Naitasiri have taken to learning the science of growing mushrooms through a recent training conducted by the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC) and supported by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture.

“The mushroom training was
specifically for the women and we needed an interim crop with a quick turnover
to fill the gap in the period that our yaqona crops are maturing,” said Ledua
Vereti, the advisor to the village community council of Naivucini.

The training was facilitated by
the president of the Fiji Mushroom Farmers Association, Susan Pocock. The
Association is one of 15 commodity members of the Fiji Crop and Livestock
Council.

A combination of classroom and
field work saw the women learning the basics of planting oyster mushroom
substrates, preparation for pre-harvest and post-harvest marketing, and growing
the Juncao grass which is a source of nutrition for mushrooms.

Vereti said that the farming of oyster mushrooms, which will solely be an activity for the women, and the planting of yaqona by the men, are in line with the Naivucini community’s short, mid and long term plans to improve their living conditions, invest in the stock market, and real estate.

FCLC CEO, Jiu Daunivalu, said
she was pleased to see the interest emanating from rural communities for
mushroom production.

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