Progress report for WSP19-018
The Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program (SOAP) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH CTAHR) remains committed to conducting annual professional development educational opportunities for agricultural professionals (AG PRO) in cooperation with WSARE, on evidence based, sustainable agricultural practices. The WSARE PDP program allows us to continue servicing and educating agricultural professionals in advancing sustainable agricultural practices which are in line with WSARE’s goals in advancing stewardship of the island’s natural resources by providing site-specific, sustainable farming and ranching methods that strengthens agricultural competitiveness; satisfies human food and fiber needs, maintain, conserve, enhance the quality and productivity of soil; conserve water, energy, natural resources, and maintain and improve the quality of surface and ground water. We anticipate providing agricultural professionals and producers with the technologies, skills and competencies to increase on farm productivity and efficiency; safeguard human, farm, biological and natural resources; reduce unnecessary crop and chemical inputs; and improve the overall quality of life of Hawaii’s farmers and agricultural communities through education, outreach, and applied research.
Based on results from stakeholder and advisory member engagements, ongoing and increased emphasis in the 2019-2020 training period are expected to be placed on the following topics:
- Reduced reliance on imported inputs for plant and soil health
- Fruit tree / organic seed production
- Protected environment (e.g. screen house) production
- Improved dissemination of information directly to growers
- Improving agricultural professionals’ capacity to serve new and beginning farmers
Hawaii is geographically isolated from the continental US as well as within the states counties. This makes it challenging for Ag professionals to access educational opportunities nationwide. Our program increases access to local and national educational opportunities through travel scholarships and program support. We also bring in outside topic expertise to the state to provide local ag professionals with vital information to help increase their capacity to promote sustainable agriculture.
The project also provides a statewide annual training to update ag professionals on some of the technological improvements in agriculture to help them stay relevant. The education training provides a day of formal education presented by topic experts and followed by farm visits to expose ag professionals to the diversity of agricultural production systems being utilized around the state.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Provide agricultural professionals and producers with the technologies, skills and competencies to increase on farm productivity and efficiency.
The Hawaii WSARE PDP activities focused on disseminating research based information to support the top five priority areas identified by Hawaii’s agricultural professionals in the HI WSARE Needs Assessment Survey: 1) Pest Management, 2) Creating Educational Videos, 3) Produce Quality, 4) Web based Media to Reach Clientele, and 5) Agricultural Technologies such as drones, precision ag, applications, etc. Previous PDP events have been heavily focused on edible crop production systems and soil / conservation related topics. Minority votes on priority subjects included request for livestock and technology use in animal production. Focused workshops, field demonstrations, farm tours, PowerPoint/lecture slides, face to face interaction, agent sharing and integration of the latest technology were the top ranked methods of information delivery for professional development trainings. Information obtained from the SOAP Needs Assessment helped to formulate our agenda.
Educational programs that allow participants to learn more about evidence based and localized sustainable and organic practices is vital to our continued success in changing agricultural practices in an island state. One hundred percent of participants indicated that the event helped them learn new skills and also indicated a modification in their opinions and attitudes towards the educational topics offered.
Provide educational opportunities to participants in remote location.
Due to the global pandemic caused by Covid-19 many educational opportunities were cancelled or postponed. To adapt to these challenges output techniques were modified to allow for remote or virtually based workshops and demonstrations. Many platforms are available for the virtual dissemination of information. One of the more common platforms for visual education is zoom. This platform allows for social distancing while still allowing for transfer of information. The project has been using this platform to conduct educational workshops in place of in person events.
Participants indicated that this platform was appropriate for the topics being presented. Participants also indicated that the information learned through zoom is directly related to their clientele and production systems. This platform has also allowed the project to reach clientele groups that my have normally been excluded due to remote geographic locations.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
The project team is grateful to SARE/USDA for supporting the limited resources available in Hawaii and making it easy for the project team to reach out to a wider range of areas and growers throughout the state of Hawaii.
The SARE logo, publications, and funding sources were/are mentioned in all the events using the project funds.