Mainland images of the fall harvest may not apply to Hawaii, where the growing season is year-round. But after the islands’ busier summer than 2009’s and before a Christmas break that’s expected to be even more robust, travelers may find that quieter autumn is the peak period to reap the benefits of new and renewed activities and accommodations.
For activities, the menu of agritourism options – an appetizing way to support farmers and rural landscapes – keeps expanding on the four major islands:
Maui: The new Grown on Maui Bus Tour lives up to its name by including a locally sourced continental breakfast at the Whole Foods Market in Kahului, a company tour and pineapple tasting at the Haliimaile Pineapple Co., a gourmet lunch and tour at upcountry Oo Farm (owned by PacificO and IO restaurants) and a walking tour and dessert at Alii Kula Lavender Farm, before returning to Whole Foods. The weekly Tuesday tour, open to ages 12 and older, costs $130 plus tax. (808) 879-2828, www.akinatours.com.
Even the wettest spot in Hawai’i — Mount Wai’ale’ale — wasn’t so wet last year as the state experienced below-normal rainfall in all but a few spots.
Rain gauges at the Kaua’i mountaintop measured 308 inches in 2009, 73 percent of normal levels, and a scant 3 inches in December, only 7 percent of normal. It was Mount Wai’ale’ale’s third-driest December on record, according to National Weather Service data.
In Honolulu, only the O’ahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge experienced above-normal rainfall in 2009 — 214 inches. Totals for most sites in central and west O’ahu were less than 50 percent of their annual averages.
The December rainfall numbers were even worse, with most O’ahu gauges measuring a third or less of normal rainfall averages, a trend that has continued into the new year.
The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 99 percent of the state is experiencing "abnormally dry" or worse conditions, compared with 37 percent at the same time last year. More than a third of the state is suffering "severe to exceptional" drought.
On Maui and the Big Island, the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month designated the two counties as natural disaster areas so farmers could seek relief for crop losses.
Hilo, Hawaii — CHERIMOYA, calamansi, rainbow papaya. Puna ricotta, poha berries, lilikoi. Lava salsa, dinosaur kale, Hamakua mushrooms. This is the exotic-food litany on the lips of pilgrims who go to the Hilo Farmers Market, held twice a week on the lush eastern side of the Big Island.
Hawaii More Photos »
On a Saturday in mid-December I was in the greedy throng, caressing a cluster of longan, or “dragon eye” fruit; sampling a fresh, made-to-order green papaya salad; sidling up for a whiff of ripe, fragrant mango.
The Big Island, a k a Hawaii, is the biggest agricultural producer in the state. But its farming history is one of immigrant fruit — produce that is itself a pilgrim. Virtually everything that is grown in the Hawaiian islands today is an exotic, brought in from somewhere else by sailors, merchants and contract laborers; pineapple, long seen as Hawaii’s signature fruit, was introduced to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1813 by Don Francisco de Paula y Marin, a Spanish adviser to King Kamehameha I.
On my December visit I set off in search of unusual agritourism experiences from a recent wave of Big Island farms. Though agricultural production has been geared largely toward industrial export and plantation-scale production over the last century and a half — entire crops of bananas, pineapple, macadamia nuts and sugar cane were shipped overseas, while almost everything else had to be flown in from the mainland — that mindset is shifting.
Fifty years after statehood, most of the plantations have gone fallow or become "gentleman’s estates." There are 6,500 "farmers" in Hawai’i, but only half are full time. The average farmer is 59, with an annual income of $10,000.
Ignoring the need for food security, we import at least 85 percent of our food and send billions to faraway agribusinesses when we could keep the money here to strengthen our self-sufficiency, enrich our economy and employ our jobless.
We were once a world leader in agricultural production. Now farmers have overwhelming challenges in land, water, infrastructure, pests, NIMBY, encroachment, transportation costs and burdensome bureaucracy, not to mention cheap foreign competition.
Can agriculture survive in Hawai’i?
The bees and the trees (and tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, mac nuts…)
Special to Hawaii247 by Andrea Dean/Volcano Island Honey
Do you know that one-third of all the food you eat is pollinated by bees?
The decimation of bee colonies is a threat to food production in Hawaii. In Hawaii we do not have the disappearance of bees (Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD), but we now have the devastating and aptly named varroa destructor, commonly known as the varroa mite.
The varroa mite is a parasite that attacks honey bee adults, larvae, and pupae. The varroa mite has been know to destroy up to 90 percent of wild hives and beekeepers can easily lose all or a majority of their managed hives.
Until recently, Hawaii and Australia were the only remaining varroa free places in the world. The varroa mite was found on Oahu in 2007, unfortunately this did not result in quick and aggressive action by the private or government sector. As a result, the mite has now been found in hives on the Big Island.
By TOM STEVENS, For The Maui News
POSTED: September 30, 2009
Amid all the chatter and bluster of isle politics, there arise from time to time truly historic occasions. One of those is coming down on Maui next month.
On Oct. 15, the state Commission on Water Resource Management will hear closing arguments on the future of the Central Maui watershed. The 9 a.m. contested case proceeding should pack the Iao Congregational Church’s Konda Hall, so interested citizens will want to get there early. No public testimony will be taken.
To draw attention to this fateful session, a public "river walk" will be held this Friday afternoon from Iao Valley to Market Street in Wailuku. At the end of the walk, the Native Intelligence store will host water rights speakers during Wailuku’s "First Friday" festivities. Later the same day, commission staff members will travel to the Paia Community Center to seek public input from 5 to 9 p.m. on East Maui water issues.
The contested case proceeding takes as its prologue a startling "proposed decision" the commission’s hearings officer issued in April. At that time, Lawrence Miike recommended that the commission partially restore the historic flows of Central Maui’s famous "four waters" – the Waihee, Waiehu, Iao and Waikapu streams.
by Dan Vallada – FoodBizDaily.com Sao Paulo
The macadamia nut has been cultivated in Brazil for four decades. Researchers are trying to increase its productivity and resistance.
The commercial cultivation of macadamia nuts in Brazil is recent, started only 40 years ago and productivity is still low. The country, the seventh in world production (2,400 tonnes in 7 thousand hectares), has about 250 producers, 160 of them in the State of Sao Paulo. The biggest Brazilian harvest happened in 2006, with 3,500 tons. Therefore, technicians and researchers are joining forces to study its varieties, nutrition, genetic improvement and phytosanitary control.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The House Agriculture Committee will hold a second informational briefing on the impact of potential layoffs for agricultural inspectors. Tomorrow, Ag Chair Rep. Clift Tsuji will focus on Hawaii’s wide range of exports. You can see it live on Olelo, Ch. 49.
WHAT: The House Agriculture Committee will hold a meeting to gather information on the negative impact of potential agriculture inspector layoffs on Hawaii’s export industry, including plants, tropical flowers, tropical fruits/papaya, macadamia nuts, coffee, and more.
WHEN: Thursday, September 10, 2009
WHERE: State Capitol, Conference Room 325
Posted by Georgette at 11:12 AM
Coffee revenues 8 percent below year ago
Here is the complete PDF Hawaii Coffee Report:
Hawaii Coffee Report
Please visit the website for more information: http://www.nass.usda.gov/hi/
Mark E. Hudson, Director
USDA NASS Hawaii Field Office
1421 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814-2512
Office: (808) 973-9588 / (800) 804-9514
Fax: (808) 973-2909
"HAWAII COFFEE" reports are available on our website and also PRINTED twice a year. Subscriptions for PRINTED copies are free to those persons who report agricultural data to NASS (upon request) and available for $2 per year to all others.
The total farm revenue of coffee is estimated at $29.2 million (parchment equivalent basis) for the 2008/09 season, 8 percent lower than the 2007/08 season. This decrease in revenue was the result of a 20 percent drop in the average farm price compared to a 15 percent increase in production.