Preserving Native Medicinal Plants for Traditional Healers in Samoa

Welcome Back and here’s to a hopeful 2021!

Let’s kick off the first post of the year with an interesting article from the Samoa News about how Samoan traditional knowledge in medicine is proving valuable for SROS- the Scientific Research Organization of Samoa’s exploration of local native plants.

At the frontline of the SROS scientific research of Plants and Postharvest Technologies division at Nafanua, is Masuisuiolemalietoa Dr. Seeseei Molimau-Samasoni who claims that Samoan native plants have shown huge potential in medicine. “There are 500 Native flowers in Samoa, and about 200 ferns in Samoa,” she said. “Traditionally, we’ve discovered that much of these plants can be used in everyday Samoan life. From medicine to consumption to other uses,” added Masuisuiolemalietoa.

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Samoan rainforest- picture from http://www.gettyimages.com

For Medicine, over 130 plants found in Samoa are used or can be used for medicinal purposes. But only 84 of those 130, are used by local traditional healers (Taulasea). “Some of the plants that are not being used from the 130 medicinal plants, were used in the past but are not used anymore, and others were recorded in historical writings, but we have not come across any confirmation as of yet,” she added.

Masuisuiolemalietoa revealed that the Samoan traditional doctors’ community are facing adversity. “Only a few traditional healers have access to the plants they specialize in, and some have come to lose their practice because the plants they are accustomed to have gone either extinct, very rare to find, and some are only found in certain parts of the rainforests, and in other cases, entire parts of rainforest have been wiped out and eradicating along with it are the plants our traditional healers rely on,” she added.

Following these discoveries, the Cabinet has placed heavy emphasis on the replanting, and preservation of Samoan native plants identified by SROS to be of high value to Samoan livelihoods.

A special garden is in the pipeline for SROS under the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries where SROS will plant, nurture and preserve all plants recognized by Masuisuiolemalietoa and her team.

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Samoa- picture from departmentofwandering.com

The Prime Minister. Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi welcomed the initiative and on the spot, impressed onto the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua to capitalize on the space at the MAF Crops division in Nu’u. “We have been pushing this initiative for quite some time, but now we’ve put the plan in action,” the Prime Minister added. “It is important that we preserve the plants that have been proven useful to our Samoan people’s livelihoods in medicine and food for consumption. I would advise that to get this project be implemented in Nu’u where there is adequate space to host all the plants needed for the project,” the Prime Minister continued.

Tuilaepa went on to highlight the value of Nafanua Pure and the work that SROS has been undertaking in research and development. The foundation for the Nafanua Pure factory at Tanugamanono has been laid and the construction of the factory continues.

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