February 18, 2015

Farmers need to base their decisions on facts, rather than misleading or inaccurate information and activist dogma, for sustainable intensification of agriculture to achieve its potential.

By Bruce Mathews, Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Bruce Mathews
Bruce Mathews

There is presently a disconnect between the economic reality of Hawai‘i’s working farmers, educators, and the well-intentioned sustainability and food sovereignty idealism of governmental leaders, politicians, and community activists.

At most community agricultural meetings in Hawaiʻi, there are candid discussions regarding the growth and development constraints faced by the smallholder crop and livestock sectors. These discussions revolve around strong import competition from large continental-based operations, heavy dependence on imported energy and nutrient inputs for our farms, and a myriad of challenges associated with lease land, access to water and adequate infrastructure, labor constraints, lack of applied research and extension outreach, marketing, ability to comply with regulations, access to promising new cultivars, security, building equity, and sufficient financing.