Tag Archives: Scott Enright

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

 

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Disturbing Banana Bunchy Top Virus Trend

Richard Ha writes:

We've noticed an uptick lately in the number of banana plants in and around Hilo town that are affected with the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV). Banana farmers are constantly watching for this, and lately we are seeing more of it.

bunchy top.jpt

We brought up this disturbing trend with Scott Enright, who is chair of the Department of Agriculture. Kamran Fujimoto had been concentrating on BBTV, but recently he has been focusing on fire ants and coconut rhinocerous beetle and traveling to O‘ahu.

Banana farmers have a tradition of being proactive. Lynn Richardson, who is a veteran banana farmer, had made a BBTV page on Facebook.

We would much rather be proactive and keep the disease under control than need to seek a GMO solution. Australia has a successful BBTV control program going, but it does have a law in place that allows inspectors to go into a person's yard to eradicate infected plants.

Our banana farmers report new infections as they see them, but we have been losing ground lately and it is a big concern.

Scott Enright listened to the banana growers and he immediately assigned two people to work with Kamran. Scott is not one to fool around. He moves fast.

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Hurricane Iselle: The Aftermath & Human Stories

Richard Ha writes:

Soon after Hurricane Iselle hit the Big Island, the Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United (HFRU) core group called a meeting. We wanted to assess damage, and what we found was that some Big Island farmers were in desperate need.

The human stories which were told by some of the affected farmers were hard to take. One of the independent processors told about being in church on Sunday just after the hurricane and not being able to look a farmer, there with his family, in the eye. They both knew what this damage meant to the farmers. The processor told us at the meeting that it brought him to tears.

Diane Ley, executive director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, was on the phone at the after-hours emergency meeting. Scott Enright, who is chair of the Department of Agriculture, participated by cell phone. He had just landed on O‘ahu and was driving to a meeting.

Farmers and their friends pulled together to bring agencies with resources to meet with farmers at one stop. W.H. Shipman, Ltd. made their offices available to the group for meetings. Lorie Farrell did the real heavy lifting by organizing everything. And the support agencies responded.

Rally1

We met on Tuesday, on W.H. Shipman, Ltd.’s ground, with about 180 people in attendance. Chris Kanazawa, head of the USDA’s Rural Development; Scott Enright, director of the Board of Agriculture; Laverne Omori, county director of Research and Development. So was Chris Manfredi, president of the Hawaii Farm Bureau.

Rally2

Various agencies had booths where they provided information about their programs. People gave presentations. AgriLogic, which specializes in risk management insurance for farmers, was there. One of the priorities of HFRU is to increase the percentage of farmers covered by crop insurance.

Mayor Billy Kenoi announced he is hiring DayDay Hopkins to be liaison to the farmers. That is a huge deal; DayDay knows farming. I met two county council candidates for the first time that day, Danny Paleka and Ron Gonzales, and after having short conversations, it was clear to me that both are very thoughtful and know what the spirit of aloha is all about. 

Yesterday I read in the Star-Advertiser that 287,000 Hawaii residents receive aid through the Hawaii Foodbank and its agencies. I called up Ross Sibucao, the young president of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, and asked him: “How many papaya farmers are on food stamps?”

He chuckled at my even asking the question. He said, “Probably zero.”

The farmers are the ones feeding the people. They do important work.

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