There is great potential for hydroponic farms in Samoa
Healthy, local and they grow quite fast.
That’s why Tom and Tafi Rudnick are investing heavily in their hydroponic farm at Vailima which they believe will go a long way to eliminate the need to import lettuce.
The Rudnicks utilizes the method of growing plants without soil “using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.”
“The plants are grown with only their roots exposed to the mineral solution of water,” Mr. Rudnick told Sunday Samoan.
Mr. Rudnick’s overarching goal is for Samoa to be able to supply its own lettuces and other vegetables, without the need to import them.
“We want to produce what is good for the health of the people, which means no spraying of the lettuce with any chemicals,” he said.
“We need to stop importing, the government should invest in the farms in Samoa and stop depending on imported goods. We can do it ourselves.”
“There are people in Samoa who can do it.... we can do it ourselves, we don’t need to depend on imports from off island when it comes to our vegetables.”
Mr. Rudnick said apart from the challenge of getting it up and running, the process is quite simple.
“We have a water pump which is mixed with powered nutrients,” he said.
“The pump pushes the water up to the pipes that feed in to the tallies (pipes) where the seed is growing.”
“The water exits from the tallies and goes back into the water tank.”
“We use little water and it’s clean recycled water unlike the farms on the soil, where they need so much water in order for the plant to grow in the soil.”
“Not hydroponic farming,” he said.
So far, the Rudnicks have 5,000 plants. They are not stopping any time soon.
“We don’t have to pick weeds, we don’t have to spray, we don’t have to bend down, there is no digging and most of all we only use a little amount of water.”
But the benefits don’t end there. It takes five weeks for a lettuce to grow in a hydroponic farm whereas on soil it takes up to three months
Furthermore, Mr. Rudneck said the materials, equipment, nutrient powders used in his farm are imported in from New Zealand.
Hydroponic farming was initiated by an American Scientist in 1968 who experimented with vegetables growing in space. He said that unlike travelers on earth who have access to restaurants, in space traveler’s options are limited.
“And this was when National Aeronautic and Space Administration wants to increase the length of missions, scientists have found a way to grow their own food in their space shuttles,” he said.
Mr. Rudnick started working on hydroponic farm in a Lelata plantation in Savaii, in 1997.
“We were the first hydroponic farm to grow in the South Pacific and because everyone believed that hydroponic does not grow in Tropical countries, I had proved them wrong.
“It took me a good six month to get this going. It took a long time to determine the technicalities of growing a hydroponic farm.
“Fiji is the leading country with the biggest hydroponic farm with Samoa the second, because not many people invest in this type of farming yet it’s very easy.”
The hydroponic in Vailima outside Mr Rudnick’s residence started in October 2016.
“This is only a baby and it’s going to be much bigger.”
Even with that, the Rudnicks have close to 20 businesses they supply. They plan to expand and supply a whole lot more.