Directed studies provide opportunities for students to engage in some of the most interesting and rewarding educational experiences while in college.

Aerial view of aquaculture facility. Large aquaculture ponds, large research structures. Grassy areas around ponds and buildings. Rocky shore.
Aerial view of the UH Hilo Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center at Hilo Bay. The Aquaculture Student Workforce Training Program employs about 25 students annually to conduct research and production in the aquaponics, oyster, and marine ornamental programs.

Directed studies at the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management provide opportunities for University of Hawai’i at Hilo students to engage in some of the most interesting and rewarding educational experiences while in college. The following is a glimpse of some of the activities students in CAFNRM are doing to fulfill their requirements in directed studies while producing useful research data and significant community service:

Ellison Montgomery is a recent graduate of CAFNRM, who came back to get more experience in applied sciences. She is working on acclimatizing native plants raised in a nursery management course taught initially by now retired Professor of Horticulture William Sakai and continued by Assistant Professor of Entomology Jesse Eiben. She is also working on a little fire ant integrated pest management project in CAFNRM greenhouses. She is currently employed at Komohana Research and Extension Center.

There are new opportunities for Hawaiʻi as an agricultural technology node and as a model for self-reliant food and food production in tropical islands.

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

Ardi. Mathews, and Evensen standing for photo
(Left to right) Dr. Ardi from Andalas University, West Sumatra, Indonesia; UH Hilo CAFNRM Dean Bruce Mathews; and UH Mānoa CTAHR Natural Resource Management Specialist Carl Evensen, at Sherman Hall, UH Mānoa.

On 13-14 November, 2017, I was invited to Honolulu to meet with a delegation from West Sumatra, Indonesia to the East-West Center, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The delegation included the governor of West Sumatra, The Hon. Irwan Prayitno, and the former dean of the faculty of agriculture at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, Dr. Ardi.

Dr. Ardi presented a talk on the outcomes 30 years henceforth of the TropSoils Indonesia project conducted by CTAHR, the Indonesian Center for Soils Research, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Sumatra during the 1980s. The project developed sustainable agricultural practices based on integrated nutrient and pest management for resource limited farmers cultivating the regions acidic, low-fertility soils. Overall the economic standing of local residents improved as a result of the project however there are new challenges that need to be addressed for farmers to sustainably intensify their operations and be resilient in the face of climate change and other stresses.

King Kamehameha wanted cattle to be a sustainable food source for his people. But today, the more the state relies on mainland exports, the less chance Hawai‘i has to be independent.

By Maria McCarthy, Student, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, animal science track.

Cattle grazing, puu in background.
Ranch cattle, Waimea, Hawai‘i. Photo by Steve Cadman.

Cattle in Hawai‘i was once considered kapu (sacred, thus forbidden) to eat when it was introduced in 1793. King Kamehameha received six heifers and one bull as a gift from Captain George Vancouver. The cows were then placed in a guarded, 400-acre parcel of land, surrounded by a rock wall. The king did this to increase the population size of his herd to one day be a sustainable food source for his people. When King Kamehameha III reigned, he lifted the kapu in the 1800’s when the herd was around 25,000 heads.

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.