Sustainable Agriculture

Living in the most remote archipelago on the planet make our need for sustainable agriculture all the more urgent especially since we presently import ~90% of our food with less than a two week storage buffer. Our present situation is in stark contrast to that faced by Pre-Contact Hawaiʻi, which was home to almost as many people as we have today but they met all of their needs without import.

The UHH is making efforts in several areas of sustainable Agriculture including vermiculture and composting, aquaculture, hydroponics, local production of food, intercropping, agro-ecology. The trick in Hawai`i is to encourage more young people to farm and to find means by which smaller scale agriculture can be profitable. Adding to our present agricultural perdicament is the data that shows us that farmers make up less than 1% of our workforce and the average age of a farmer is 65+. This is practically the definition of unsustainable.

Getting students engaged in farming and innovative sustainable farming techniques is essential to our food security. Prof. Bill Sakai, of the UHH College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resouce Management (CAFNRM) conducted a class in the Spring of 2012 during which students developed aquaculture and hydroponic food production:

aquaponics

CAFNRM students work on one of several aquaponics systems at the Panaewa farm.

students with Bill Sakai

Bill Sakai talks with the developers of the "Soljah-Ponics" system.

soldier fly maggots for fish food

In Soljah-ponics, compost is eaten by soldier fly magotts, which are fed to the tilapia whose enriched water irrigates the, in this case spinach, garden.

soljah flies

Compost is consumed and produces maggots, then maggots are used for fish food, and the fish water is fertilized irrigation for the veggies. Nice!