hawaii-agriculture-logoHOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 1589
H.B. NO. 1589 H.D.1


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that cacao of the theobroma cacao tree, the dried and fermented seed from which chocolate is made, is native to the central and western Amazon region and is widely distributed throughout the humid tropical regions with commercial production concentrated in Brazil, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, and Nigeria.

The legislature finds that the cacao industry in Hawaii is in its infancy stage with fewer than thirty growers and a total acreage of approximately fifty acres, but holds the promise of helping diversified agriculture markets. The University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources has conducted a series of meetings, including the one-day workshop entitled “Future of Cacao in Hawaii’ held October 23, 2008, involving key stakeholders in the local cacao industry and representatives statewide to strategize on methods for positioning Hawaii in the growing cacao market.

$6M grant funds research facility expansion


HILO — An agricultural research center on a hillside overlooking Hilo is getting a little bigger, thanks to a $6.2 million federal grant celebrated Friday at a dedication ceremony.

The U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center is one of about 100 such facilities scattered across the globe. The Hawaii center has researched the papaya ringspot virus, fruit flies, nematodes, purple sweet potatoes and other problems and opportunities unique to the tropics.

The expansion adds 4,500 square feet of technical office and conference space to the 35,000-square-foot, $48 million first phase of the facility. It houses 15 scientists and 65 support staff on 30 acres.

“We’re dedicating a building today, but it is more than bricks and mortar,” said Sylvia Yuen, interim dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “The legacy will continue in the research … that will help solve serious agricultural problems.”

Facilities include laboratories, greenhouses and what’s called the “head house,” where plants are worked on before and after they’re in the greenhouse environment. The head house is equipped with photovoltaic cells generating 40 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Cacao celebration

Derek Lanter clearly remembers his first date with the “dark side.” In 2001 he was living in Berkeley, Calif., when Scharffen Berger, the company that reputedly makes America’s finest dark chocolate, was setting up its operation there. He and a friend decided to visit Scharffen Berger’s factory for a tour and tasting.

“Having worked with coffee as a buyer and roaster for Uncommon Grounds Coffee Co., I had experience processing coffee beans and evaluating the brew made from them, but that was the first time I saw cacao beans being roasted, ground and manufactured into chocolate,” Lanter recalled.

“Scharffen Berger was using beans from Colombia, Madagascar, Ecuador, Ghana and Indonesia. We learned about the equipment and process, and tasted chocolate at different stages and in different forms, from the roasted nib to pure cacao liquor; sweet milk chocolate; and semisweet, 62 percent; bittersweet, 70 percent; and extra-dark, 85 percent chocolate. It was such a mind-opening experience!”

Today, Lanter tastes chocolate nearly every day as the sales and marketing manager for Waialua Estate, a subsidiary of Dole Food Co. that grows 20 acres of cacao and 155 acres of coffee on Oahu’s North Shore. According to Lanter, chocolate made from locally grown cacao is being favorably compared with world-renowned brands such as Amano, Amedei, Guittard and Michel Cluizel.

Autograph trees are invading Hawaii’s forests

by Diana Duff

Many gardeners in Hawaii have become native plant enthusiasts. More and more people are awakening to the beauty of our native species and learning about them and the vigilance required to save them from harm or eventual extinction. Events like Arbor Day at Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden, offering free native plants and information on growing them, help folks learn ways to grow and care for native plants. Interest in these plants, which have thrived in our native forests for millennia, helps raise awareness of the threats a multitude of invasive species pose to them.

One particularly threatening species, the autograph, or signature, tree (Clusia rosea) caught the notice of Darcy Ames, who has witnessed firsthand the encroachment of this species on the ohia forests near her home.

“When I first bought property in Holualoa, I thought the autograph tree was quite lovely,” Ames said. “After a few years of experience, inspection and investigation, I began to realize this tree was capable of destroying the habitat of our ohia and other native species unless we began a proactive course against it.

“After witnessing the damage it can cause, I can honestly say that I hate what this plant is capable of doing. Autograph seeds can be dropped by birds and root as much as 20 or 30 feet in the air in the crotch of an ohia tree.

Poinsettia: It’s all about the leaves

by Russell T. Nagata
Special To West Hawaii Today

If it weren’t for the highly colored leaves, the poinsettia would be best known by some other name. Its scientific name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, literally means “most beautiful Euphorbia.” The true flowers of the poinsettia are called cyathia and are the green and white beads tipped with yellow and red in the center of the flowers. The showy parts of the plants are actually modified leaves called bracts.

The poinsettia grows wild in southern Mexico and naturally blooms under the shorter daylight hours of the fall season. The Aztec name for this plant was cuetlaxochitl and was use in many ways. A purplish dye was extracted from the colorful bracts to be used in textiles and cosmetics and the latex sap was used to treat fevers.

The plant was introduced into the United States by Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 1825-29. Although trained in the medical profession, Poinsett’s real love was botany. On a trip to the Taxco area in 1828, he collected the brilliant red flowering plants and grew them at his South Carolina farm. He distributed the plants to friends, who distributed it to their friends and so on. It’s easy to see how the name originated.

Columnist home after volunteer coffee, bamboo projects in Haiti

Just returning home from Farmer to Farmer coffee and bamboo projects in Haiti, I have never been more acutely aware of how blessed we are here.

Of course most folks know that Haiti is a poor country, but the news is misleading. Yes, the capitol of Port au Prince was devastated by the January earthquake, but folks who live in rural areas were not as affected. Voltaire Moise and I traveled from north to south and found life much as it had been for decades in the countryside.

The land is rich, plus Haitians are hard-working and self-sufficient. Lack of medical help, schools and good roads makes life difficult, but not impossible.

The city, on the other hand, was literally destroyed.

There were more than half a million people killed and over a million are now living in cardboard and tarp structures until homes and buildings can be rebuilt.

As we left Haiti, an outbreak of cholera had affected thousands and as I write this, Hurricane Tomas is forecast to hit Haiti with 100 mph winds! Folks in the makeshift tents have nowhere to protect themselves. It is heartbreaking! If you want to help, you can make financial donations to the Farmer to Farmer Program of Partners of the Americas. The contact person is Megan Olivier, program director, 1424 K Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20005. The funds will reach Benito Jasmin, Haiti country coordinator of the program. For as little as $50, you can keep a child clothed, fed and in school for one month.

Monsanto donates $20,000 for genetics teaching

The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii-Manoa has received $20,000 from the Monsanto Fund.

The college says the money will support salaries and materials for “Gene-ius Day.” It’s a special program that introduces students in grades 4 through 12 to basic genetics and the function of DNA.

The founder and director of Gene-ius Day, Ania Wieczorek, is an associate specialist in the college’s Biotechnology, Biotechnology Outreach Program.

She says a primary goal of the program is to build a strong understanding of basic genetics at the elementary school level.

That way, teachers are able to present increasingly complex biotechnology topics in the upper grades.

Monsanto donates $20,000 for genetics teaching | KHON2 Hawaii’s News Leader

Master Gardeners Visit Waimanalo

HONOLULU — What’s new in mulch? Trouble with your root balls? Master gardeners from around Hawaii made a field trip to Waimanalo Sunday to learn about the latest techniques and innovations in Hawaii agriculture.

The Waimanalo Agricultural Station is like the promised land for master gardeners. It’s where the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture tends test beds, conducts research on organic gardening and develops the newest techniques in soil management.

Master gardeners are volunteers, trained by university extension service programs, who are able to educate the public on gardening and horticultural issues.

Master gardeners came from all around the state Sunday for a field trip to the Waimanalo Agricultural Station.

“I think as a master gardener we get so focused on our own islands. Coming together to be master gardeners of Hawaii rather than just our island, we share different programs that are going on. We find out what can we bring back and augment on our island,” said Melanie Stephens, a master gardener from Maui.

Establishing a foundation for avocado self-sufficiency – The Maui News


Hawaii is a net importer of avocados, although the trees grow luxuriantly in many of our islands’ microclimates. In season, the Saturday farmers market at Eddie Tam in Makawao presents many varieties, from big, fat, light green and smooth to small, dark and nubbly.

Now the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association and the Kona Kohala Chefs Association are uniting to establish a foundation for self-sufficiency in the fruit.

"We’re looking for a few great avocados from seedlings and unknown grafted trees to be evaluated by horticulturists and chefs," said Ken Love, HTFG executive director. "Chosen fruit will be propagated and planted at the UH experiment station in Kainaliu (on the Big Island) and protected so future generations will have access to it."