New Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry

Final Report for EW07-004

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2007: $80,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Craig Elevitch
Permanent Agriculture Resources
Craig Elevitch
Hawaii Homegrown Food Network
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Project Information


To support the vast potential for new Pacific island specialty crops, Farm and Forest Production and Marketing (FFPM) profiles for 32 crops were developed to support the region’s participation in the world marketplace for high quality food, fiber, and healthcare products. The FFPM profiles detail essential information for crop development: horticulture and botany, the roles for each crop in mixed-crop agroforestry, commercial products, product quality standards, location and size of markets, post-harvest processing, opportunities for local value-added processing, and genetic improvement. The completed FFPM profiles are available for free, unrestricted download in pdf format from

Project Objectives:
    1. Survey Pacific island species experts and local agriculture and forestry professionals to select 32 promising crop species to be covered by the project.
    2. Identify candidate authors for the 32 FFPM profiles and secure author commitments.
    3. Locate at least two photographs to illustrate each profile.
    4. Produce the 32 FFPM manuscripts (4-8 pages each) through a series of author-editor revisions, and finally review by educators and farmers.
    5. Publish the 32 profiles as PDF files for free download from (a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization) as they are completed.
    6. Distribute a full set of the completed profiles in hard copy and cd to 100 libraries, public service offices, and agricultural professionals throughout the U.S.-affiliated Pacific.
    7. Publicize the profiles through several channels, including Pacific island agricultural journals, international agroforestry journals, internal university and USDA newsletters, and the SAN Program’s Source Book of Sustainable Agriculture and sanet-mg.
    8. Conduct a phone survey of at least 30 agricultural extension professionals and practitioners 3 months after distribution to evaluate behavioral impact.

This project provides extension agents and other agricultural professionals with detailed information about 32 crops that are highly compatible with Pacific island agronomic conditions, suitable for agroforestry systems, and appropriate for local and export markets. These crops are “new” in the sense that they are underdeveloped, underutilized, or not recognized for their commercial potential. Even though hundreds of potential new crops have been introduced to Pacific islands during the past 200 years, very few have been economically or ecologically sustainable. The failures can be explained by three major factors: little local appreciation or use of the crop; lack of understanding of how new crops may be integrated into sustainable mixed-crop agroforestry systems; and a lack of regard for local or export market potential, distribution constraints, or suitability for value-added strategies such as on-farm processing. By providing agricultural extension professionals with current and detailed marketing and processing information for promising crops for mixed-crop agroforestry systems, this project stimulates farm enterprise development while promoting sustainable land-use in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific.


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  • J. B. Friday
  • John Lawrence
  • Roger Leakey
  • Diane Ragone

Education & Outreach Initiatives



Top priority crops were selected by a survey of over 100 experts throughout the Pacific (see attached survey result). Once the crops are selected, authorities were identified to author Farm and Forestry Production and Marketing profiles for each of the crops covering essential information for crop development in the Pacific: horticulture and botany, roles in mixed-crop agroforestry including example systems, commercial products, product quality standards, location and size of markets, post-harvest processing, opportunities for local value-added processing, and potential for genetic improvement. As profiles were completed, they were posted to for free, unrestricted downloading in PDF format. Hardcopies were sent to over 100 libraries and public service organizations throughout the Pacific. During the course of the project, the profiles were publicized multiple times through numerous channels including The Overstory agroforestry journal (8,000 subscribers), Hana ‘Ai (University of Hawai‘i), Hawai‘i Tropical Fruit Growers, Hawai‘i Homegrown Food Network Newsletter (1,000 subscribers), newspaper press releases throughout the Pacific, and other media outlets.


After completion of the project publications, a survey of extension professionals, educators, and other agroforestry experts was conducted. Eighty-five potential survey participants from throughtout the Pacific were recommended by project advisors and key collaborators. Of these, 50 agreed to participate in the survey, which was conducted through Survey Monkey, and of these, 45 completed the survey. As shown below, respondents represent a wide spectrum of professional and American-affiliated islands. Survey respondents by affiliation USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service 12 University 12 NGO 11 Agriculture and Forestry 6 Consultant 4 Location of respondents American Samoa 1 Chuuk (FSM) 1 Guam 6 Hawaii 28 Kosrae (FSM) 1 Majuro (Marshalls) 2 Pohnpei (FSM) 3 Saipan (MP) 1 Yap (FSM) 2 A brief summary of evaluation responses is attached (pdf file). The evaluators’ comments also appear in “Potential Contributions” and “Future Recommendations” below. Hard copies All 45 evaluators received an office hard copy. Additionally, 65 hard copies were distributed to libraries, NGOs, university extension, and other offices throughout the Pacific.

Outreach and Publications

All project publications are available as pdf files available for download at

Outcomes and impacts:

Short term • Target audience will have an increased awareness of economically viable opportunities in agroforestry systems. • Target audience will have an increased knowledge and appreciation of successful strategies for developing new crops in a Pacific island context. • Target audience will receive current and detailed marketing and processing information for promising new crops selected by experts from throughout the Pacific. Medium term • NRCS and university cooperative extension will increasingly be able to recommend agroforestry practices to their farmer/rancher collaborators as an ecologically and economically viable alternative to monocropping. • Rural agricultural enterprises will be strengthened by new crops for local and export markets, as well as value-added opportunities. • University and other research entities will increase their research of diverse agricultural systems that incorporate new crops. Long term • Agroforestry practices implemented on many individual farms will begin to serve a watershed function, enhance wildlife habitat, and decrease use and export of chemical farm pollutants. • Rural livelihoods will be improved through crop diversification and reaching new markets. • Farmer profits will increase due to informed use of value-added processing.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

During January and February 2008, we conducted a survey to determine the most promising specialty crops for Pacific island agroforestry. We asked respondents to recommend crops that are economically, ecologically, and culturally sustainable for family farmers in the Pacific. There were 103 surveys submitted. We received surveys from a wide range of experts with knowledge of Pacific island plants, horticulture, and economic crops. Respondents were based in American Samoa, Australia, Saipan, mainland U.S.A., Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, Pohnpei, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa, and Yap. From this survey, 32 of the most promising crops were chosen for the project. Authors were found for all 32 crops, and a list posted to <>. The 32 crop profiles have been completed and posted to the project web site. Over 100 hard copies were distributed to libraries, public service offices, and agricultural professionals throughout the U.S.-affiliated Pacific (see “Methods”). The profiles were publicized multiple times through multiple channels (see “Methods”). Finally a comprehensive evaluation was conducted to evaluate behavioral impact (see “Methods”). Downloads from During the month of June 2011, there were over 41,000 hits on profile pdf files, or an average of over 1,350 per day. The total number of hits on project publications since the first pdf files were completed and posted for download in October 2009 is over 573,000, or a daily average of nearly 900 hits on project pdf files. Additionally, during this same time period, the main project introductory web page received about 18,000 visitors.


Potential Contributions

Evaluators (target audience of this project) reported in the project survey: "All the information provided has reinforced my commitment to agroforestry, sustainable agriculture, and value-added processing." "These tools are INVALUABLE to resource managers and the general public. If you look back over the years since the inception of this work you have initiated to see the changes in the awareness and quality of information and interactions...Introspection is important as is the review of history to see how funding, collaboration and demand have steered this work.... This work is a GLOBAL RESOURCE. It has given important foundation to the work USDA-NRCS does in Micronesia. It has changed lives." "Great profiles - very helpful in a general sense. I especially like the examples of grower/processor successes - this really helps see how one might turn a crop into a commercial success. I also like the agroforestry benefits sections. Great stuff!" "A wide range of useful and interesting information for each of the specialty crops. Especially interesting to read info from other parts of the Pacific." "I am impressed with the quality of information provided for each of the crop profiles I reviewed. The pictures are beautiful and well explained. The profiles are valuable in that comparative information from different islands/ regions can be evaluated. I also appreciated 'shared stories' of individual farmers and start-ups as it lends a personal and realistic touch to the challenge of being successful and/or profitable." "This is a very valuable resource. I only rated some of the articles less valuable than others to show how I thought they stacked up relative to each other. In absolute terms, all of the articles I read were extremely helpful and a great addition to the available literature. There is a great value in having the various crops presented in the same format, so that the scope of information in each article is approximately the same." "I found the profiles extremely interesting and fairly comprehensive. The combination of cultivation with crop use information was very valuable. It is a good reminder that there needs to be a viable marketing endpoint for farmers." "Thank you for adding the section on disadvantages and pointing out the fact that some of them may be invasive." "I found the profiles extremely interesting and fairly comprehensive. The combination of cultivation with crop use information was very valuable. It is a good reminder that there needs to be a viable marketing endpoint for farmers." "This text is a very useful compendium of tropical specialty crops. It will likely become the standard reference. In addition, users may now consider alternatives that can be easily compared and contrasted. This book is likely to have significant and lasting impact with growers of specialty crops in the Pacific islands." "These types of technical resources are very important for landowners and technical assistance providers. I applaud your efforts in creating documents that represent an important selection of agroforestry species, are accessible in their format and style, and provide important technical information and references in a concise manner." "Excellent use of high quality photos, table, charts, maps and diagrams throughout this wonderful publication. Those really added value to this excellent work." "I am a firm believer in the value of crop diversity and permaculture principles. I appreciate the extensive research and work that has been put together to create this wonderful compilation of important crops in the Pacific region. I want to thank you for compiling this work and I commend all those who participated in this valuable and worthwhile project." "The crops in this volume are a real eye opener for the potential that Pacific Islanders can do with their land, especially when thinking about small farm incomes and the power of cooperatives." "I am a strong advocate of sustainable agricultural practices. These monographs are very useful and handy for extension programs delivery." "Definitely improved my knowledge in all the crops I know a lot about already, and more on the ones I know very little about." "I have advocated value-added processing from the beginning. It has become even more of a requirement to increase farm gate value to a higher level to survive the current economy." "The writing is helpful in our recommendations to community members. Some people learn most by doing, and many others by research. This writing is a simple way to accentuate our experiential teaching/learning with easy-access, and simply understood yet thorough information on the plants and practices we recommend."

Future Recommendations

Reoccurring themes in evaluator comments include: Profiles for additional crops "Other specialty crops that may be of high value to my work include: turmeric, pomegranate, guava, annatto, cassava, arrow root, sweet & sour sop, annonas, star fruit, neem, star apple." "Maybe another book that includes other lesser known varieties of fruits and vegetables as well as herbs and their health/medicinal values." "New crops based on fresh surveys and needs of clients should be included." "It would be great to see other timber products added to the list. Ones that our farmers could plant now as a long term economic product." Future updates to existing profiles "Update current information on each crop especially linking to any program and organization of plant materials resources." "…as more data becomes available this should be updated." "It might be useful to consider periodic updates of individual crop pdfs as new information becomes available." "Additional publications on specialty crops with corresponding expert authors are needed to extend cultural and production information." Translations to local languages "I recommend that the specialty crops project be expanded to include funding for translating the profiles into the native languages of the various Pacific island nations and users." "Improving the delivery of Limited English and Second Language documents for remote Micronesian locations." "If we can be allowed to translate to local languages, all or certain segments of those manuals that best fit our needs, that would be very useful." Cultural/regional specificity "I think there should be more attention paid to gender roles in agroforestry. It is very important to know that specific genders deal/work with specific natural products or efforts depending on the location and/or culture." "Regional profiles specific to Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia using the science, traditional or western, specific to that region and to address the unique socio-cultural-economic issues within each of these sub-regions (i.e., marketing discussions for isolated Micronesia will be different than for Hawaii Polynesia, etc.)." Additional pest & disease information “More info on pests and also likes and dislikes. Pest ecology is important. Disease resistant cultivars.” “More on pests/diseases/control measures/resistant cultivars. Not enough, especially in squash, chilipepper, and others. Critical.”

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.