For the residents of the Great Love Village in Palo, as well as the staff of its livelihood center, the production of mushrooms does not only provide an income for their living expenses but it also help promote environmental protection.
Mushrooms serve as substitutes for meat for most vegetarians. The Livelihood Center of the Great Love Village in Palo, Leyte started their mushroom production in 2018 to sustain the livelihood program of the village as well as to introduce fresh mushroom as a substitute for meat.
Randy Militante, administrator of the Tzu Chi Great Love Village in Palo explained that regardless of its difficulty, they will continue to produce mushrooms. Aside from its health benefits, the market for them is high which could ultimately support the daily expenses of the residents working inside the livelihood center.
The extensive procedure includes a number of steps and most of them require patience. Almost every part of the process begins and end with sterilization, this can only be done if the environment is sanitized to make sure that there will be no contamination.
Militante was able to learn about the production of mushroom through the seminars of the Department of Agriculture as well as the trainings in the Visayan State University.
None of the materials used for the production are wasted which is another reason why it was pursued.
“After harvesting, the contents of the fruiting bags are made into compose to be used as fertilizer or as food for the vermi. The vermi then produces vermitea which we use as a food supplement for our mixture for the mushrooms. So it’s a complete cycle which nothing is wasted,” said Militante.
Along with another staff, Mitchell Geamala, they learned the basics as well as the intricacy of growing mushrooms.
Mitchell Geamala was a Yolanda survivor who helped in building the temporary houses of Tzu Chi Village 5 years ago. He worked as a maintenance staff after moving into the village and is a mainstay in the livelihood center of Palo.
“Usually the rice straw are burned in the paddies after the harvest season. With mushroom production, instead of burning them, the alternative is to use them as substrates,” said Geamala.
Kenneth Capesiño, a 4th year student of the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College, majoring in BS Management who buys mushrooms in the center had long been aware of Tzu Chi as he participated in the cash-for-work during the Yolanda relief in Tacloban.
For him, this was not just a class project but it was also a way to support Tzu Chi’s mission in helping others. As he had been a beneficiary before, this was his chance to give back.
Volunteer Sally Yuñez spearheaded the development of a livelihood center in Palo when most of the residents in the village do not have any source of income due to their lack of skills and the lack of working opportunities.
According to her, mushrooms production can yield a good amount of profit despite its complexity, it could help support the workers who are involved with its production all the way to its marketing.
The staff and Sally Yuñez plan to conduct seminars about the production of mushroom in the future as well as sell mushroom chips in malls and supermarkets.