Tag Archives: Bruce Matthews

You’re Invited to a Community Meeting re: Hamakua Agriculture

Richard Ha writes:

Save the dates:

  • Wednesday, October 29
  • Wednesday, November 5
  • Thursday, November 13
  • 6-8 p.m.
  • Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School Bandroom

On these dates, the Hilo Hamakua Community Development Corporation will hold a series of community meetings to discuss agriculture on the Hamakua Coast. All are welcome (and refreshments are free).

We will take a 40,000 foot view of ag and its outside influences, and then look at the resources available to help us, such as the Daniel K. Inouye-Pacific Basin Ag Research Center (PBARC), the College of Tropical Ag and Human Resources (CTAHR), and the College of Ag, Forestry and Natural Resources Management (CAFNRM) at UH Hilo. 

There are many scientists researching various subjects. What do we want them to work on?

Farmers will be at the meeting to share their knowledge and experience.

Are you looking for land to farm? Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate with be there, and the Hamakua Ag Co-op has vacant land.

John Cross, former land manager for C. Brewer/Hilo Coast Processing, will attend. Did you know why all the sugar cane equipment had tracks, rather than rubber tires? Did you know that the plantations frequently planted banyan trees as significant landmarks? 

Jeff Melrose will be at the meetings. He recently did a study that's a snapshot of agriculture on the Big Island. He will talk about on what is grown on the Hamakua coast and why.

Come and talk story with the presenters, learn where you can get additional information, and speak up on what you would like to know more about in the future.

Ag & food security symposia



How Global Warming is Impacting Food Crops

I sent this Wall Street Journal online link to Dr. Bruce Matthews, the Interim Dean of UH Hilo’s College of Ag and Forestry.

Rising carbon-dioxide levels are slightly helping crops compete against weeds.

Two rival designs of plant biochemistry compete to dominate the globe. One, called C3 after the number of carbon atoms in the initial sugars it makes, is old, but still dominant. Rice is a C3 plant. The other, called C4, is newer in evolutionary history, and now has about 21% of the photosynthesis “market.” Corn is a C4 plant. In hot weather, the C3 mechanism becomes inefficient at grabbing carbon dioxide from the air, but in cool weather C4 stops working altogether. So at first glance it seems as if global warming should benefit C4…. Read the rest

He responded:
Thanks for sharing the article. Back in 2002 I spent a day with John Sheehy at IRRI (Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines) when he was just starting his work on trying to make a C4 rice plant.  He is retired now but still serves as a consultant to IRRI on plant physiology and breeding.
“Smart” crop varieties that yield more under higher temperatures and more frequent water stress with fewer inputs are pivotol to the future success of agriculture in the tropics. Result-oriented breeding programs are critically needed.
Bananas are a C4 plant and will do fine under rising temperatures. Tomatoes, a C3 plant, may benefit by breeding them into a C4 heat-tolerant plant.

Dispatch from the Philippines: We Can Learn a Lot from This Place

We left Cebu yesterday via Supercat (that’s a high-speed catamaran). Crossed the water and traveled along the east side of Leyte Island.

The island is like Hawai‘i, with highlands in the middle. It seemed like there were cinder cones all over its surface. Due to its lack of erosion, Leyte looks relatively younger geologically than O‘ahu.

There was a huge welcoming ceremony. Beauty queens, band, dancers, dignitaries and a police escort. Each of us received an Ormoc City medallion to wear around our necks. Serious stuff.

After dropping off our bags, we went to Visayas State University (VSU). Our delegation met with the President of the University and had a briefing, where it was apparent that there are so many things we have in common. I loved the atmosphere and “can-do” attitude.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi set the big picture – the Aloha connection. This relationship is a long-term one of friendship.

Dr. Bruce Matthews, Interim Dean of the UH Hilo College of Ag, delivered UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney’s message of wanting to set up a student exchange program, and they are trying to achieve a Memo of Understanding on that before we leave. Their “cut through the red tape” attitude was most impressive to me.

VSU is a high-tech learning and research center that is building on what works locally, and then improving on it. For example, carabao – water buffalo – are utilized throughout the islands. But the university is improving the native carabao line by bringing in stock that grows faster in relation to a given time and food supply.

Also, carabao milk is thick, and not as appetizing as cow milk, but by diluting it by 50 percent with water, you end up with the nutrition equivalent of cow’s milk. Hmmm! We sampled carabao yogurt and it was wonderful. And it grows best on Hilo grass. Hilo grass? That is what survives overgrazing and mowing on the Big Island. And it goes on and on.

Third World? We can learn a lot about sustainability from this place. Mayor Billy sets the right tone for a long lasting and mutually beneficial partnership.